The Division of Marketing and Development often receives calls regarding product labeling. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets the guidelines for nutritional label information, there are other agencies that may be involved as well.
Here are a few helpful websites that may be useful regarding labeling:
What information does my label need to include?
From FDA.gov: The primary display panel (package label most likely to be seen first by the consumer) is required to have a statement of identity (name of the food), and the net quantity (net weight). The minimum type size and prominence are determined by the package size. The information panel is the panel directly to the right of the primary display panel or the first usable panel to the right. The manufacturer’s company name and address must be displayed on the information panel.
Different retailers may require certain verbiage on the label, so be certain to consult with your retailer in regard to this issue.
Is my product exempt from nutrition labeling information?
If your company is a small business having fewer than 10 full-time employees in a 12 month period and selling fewer than 10,000 total units during that time (units being the total number of packages sold for consumer use), you may apply for exemption on an annual basis.
Additionally, effective January 1, 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service published a final rule requiring nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products on labels or at point of purchase unless exemption applies.
How do I determine nutritional facts label information needed for my product?
The Food and Drug Administration sets the guidelines for standard information that must be provided on the nutrition facts panel. Improper or inaccurate reporting will result in a product recall by the FDA.
In order to get nutritional data there are two methods. The first method is to consult the USDA National Nutrient Database. This is a searchable database of nearly 8,000 food ingredients. Using the combined ingredients, the overall nutritional data can be determined.
There are also companies which sell specialized label software that generates nutrition facts labels based on the ingredients you enter.
The other, more accurate method is to have a complete food analysis assessment performed by a company which specializes in nutritional analysis. There are several available online. Certain items such as fried and coated foods require a complete food analysis for labeling, so be certain to check with the FDA for specific requirements of your particular product.
How can I label my products as Organic?
Before being labeled organic, the farm must be certified organic by a USDA accredited certification program. Florida Organic Growers (FOG) certifies farms in Florida and can be contacted through their website. Organic standards are regulated in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
There are many criteria regarding approved pesticides, fertilizer, composting and fallow periods since last application of non-approved substances. Growers are urged to contact FOG as soon as possible if they are considering producing USDA Certified Organic products.
How do I get barcodes for my product?
Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes are the unique 12-digit numbers that appear under the barcode on the product label. These can be purchased from several online companies. The UPC number is generated by GS1 US, a nonprofit group that sets standards for international commerce which ensures that each number is unique to the product. Large retailers may require that the UPC be purchased directly from GS1 US. Smaller retailers may allow the UPC to be purchased from a reseller at a substantially lower price.
Can I market my cattle as Grass-Fed Beef?
From USDA.gov: Livestock producers often use production or processing claims as a method of distinguishing their products in the marketplace. In 2007 the USDA established a voluntary standard for grass (forage) fed marketing claims. Participation in the “USDA Process Verified” program requires verification of approved practices by a third-party certification agency. The program is strictly voluntary at this time for those who wish to use the “USDA Process Verified” seal.