Food labels for homemade foods

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What Is Required to Be On a Food Label?

Labeling food products helps consumers make informed decisions about selecting specific items that meet dietary needs. Regulations enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state governments ensure that food processing businesses provide accurate information. Food labels typically provide information covering health and safety, nutrition, and product identity.

When it comes to what information is required on food labels, it is vital to look back at several decades of food labeling laws and regulations. These laws include the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. Over the years, the FDA helped consolidate various regulations to create standardized labeling requirements.

In doing so, the authorities make it easier for food processing businesses, including cottage food vendors and microenterprise home kitchen operations (MHKOs), to meet compliance requirements.

General labeling requirements require businesses to include an ingredient statement, item identity, manufacturer's name, contents details, and net weight. Food processing firms and cottage food operators must indicate the product’s unique or common name in the product identity statement. The name printed on the food label should provide a clear description. A non-descriptive name can be confusing to consumers.

On the other hand, the product’s net weight indicates the volume, weight, or numerical value of the food in a container. Cottage food operators should focus on ensuring the nutritional facts panel provides detailed, accurate information. Formatting requirements are another critical aspect of the nutrition facts panel. Thus, it is vital to identify the correct layout, size, and typestyle.

Food Labeling Requirements

The FDA works tirelessly to safeguard food safety. It outlines food labeling requirements, which apply locally and to imported products. The agency provides guidelines based on the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and other federal laws. Labeling regulatory requirements apply to foods like desserts, cereals, bread, frozen foods, and snacks.

On the other hand, FDA gov food guidance and regulation requirements are voluntary for raw produce, such as vegetables and fruits. Businesses can opt to label raw produce or not.

The US Department of Health and Human Services also provides detailed guides regarding types of food labels and what foods do not require a nutrition label. For instance, labels must appear either on the principal display panel (PDP) or a container's front panel. The distributor's or manufacturer's name is a key requirement. 

What is required to be on a food label? FDA ingredient labeling requirements vary for different types of foods, but in general, these components should be parts of a food label: 

  • Statement of identity, or name of the food
  • Net quantity of contents, weight, or amount of product
  • Nutrition Facts
  • Ingredient list
  • Allergen statement
  • Name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor

Any beverages made of concentrated juice must indicate the ratio or percentage of real juice. Proper labeling of such products makes it easier for buyers to select a beverage with the desired taste, flavor, and concentrate content. This requirement also applies to carbonated and non-carbonated beverages.

According to the FDA food labeling guide 2020, products containing artificial flavors, spices, or natural flavors must come with a label that specifies the ingredients using common names.

On the other hand, items containing major food allergens must adhere to specific ingredient listing rules and labeling guidelines. Some ingredients containing major allergens include wheat, fish, soybeans, milk, peanuts, fish, tree nuts, and crustacean shellfish.

Florida Food Labeling Requirements

Cottage food law labels Florida is a major consideration for home cooking operations. Adhering to these requirements is mandatory since all cottage food products must comply with regulations stipulated in Section 500.80. Thus, selling cottage foods in unlabeled packaging is illegal.

A Florida cottage food label template makes it easier for operators to follow specific requirements. For instance, packaging must show the cottage food product's name and physical address of the home cooking operation. The law does not permit adding a postal box number in the place of a physical address. This requirement is vital in the event of a traceback or product recall.

The cottage food ingredients list must appear in descending order based on weight. It is also critical to list allergen details according to Florida food labeling requirements. Doing so helps customers suffering from allergies to avoid some foods containing specific allergens.

For instance, labels for white bread should indicate ingredients as follows: yeast, whole wheat flour, salt, and water. The 'whole wheat flour' allergen statement adheres to federal and USDA food labeling requirements. Adding the word 'contains' helps customers identify allergens in the general ingredients list.

Cottage foods containing eggs, soybeans, milk, walnuts, fish, pecans, wheat, almonds, and other allergens should include a relevant statement. On another level, all nutritional claims require an appropriate statement informing customers about the product's nutritional value.

At the end of the day, accurate labeling of food products keeps consumers safe and can help cottage cooks and home-based food entrepreneurs avoid making their customers sick.

Additional Resources

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