The ABC's of Packaging Labeling
We at the USDA-FDA.com site believe that the more you know the better decision you can make as to what's right for you.
When your ready to create a label for your food product, I hope you will take advantage of our expertise in labeling.
But when your ready to do it alone, here a few good rules to live by. Your packaging should have the following:
Common Name: A common name is a name already recognized by the USDA or FDA, and has been pre-determined to have certain content. A good example is "Beef Stew". Beef Stew has been already determined to have at least 25% meat, otherwise it's not considered "Beef Stew".
Description: If a product doesn't qualify as a common name, then a description of the product must be given. An example of such a product is Fajitas, since the USDA doesn't recognize that a Fajita is a common name a description must be given, such as; "Meat in a rolled dough".
Net weight: net weight of product without any packaging must be displayed on front of packaging.
Legend: if it's a product that is under the USDA inspection program, a legend must be displayed on the front of the packaging.
Ingredients: A list of all your ingredients must be displayed. This list must be in ascending order by weight. The product that weighs the most gets to be put in first on your list, and so on.
Allergens: A recent requirement of the USDA and FDA is that an allergen statement be placed on your packaging.
Nutrition Label: You must notify the consumer of the nutritional values of your product. This is done through a nutrition fact panel, that is placed on your packaging. To understand more about nutritional labels see our article Understanding Nutritional Labeling. To create a nutrition fact panel start here.
Cooking Instructions: It is required that you place cooking instructions on your packaging, if your product needs to be fully cooked before serving or needs to be warmed before serving.
Barcode: Although not a requirement by law, it does make sense if you want to sell to supermarkets. Today cashiers do not enter a product price into the register. Cashiers scan the barcode into a barcode reader, and a computer takes over, automatically entering the price into the register receipt. This allows the company to keep better track of their inventory and gets the customer out faster. To get a barcode or to understand how barcodes work go here.
Safe Handling Instructions: Applies only to meat products that are not fully cooked.
Keep Refrigerated or Frozen:
Mandatory Features Located on Principle Display Panel
- Product Name
- Handling Statement
- Legend / Establishment Number
Net Weight Statement -
mandatory for retail sale products. Random weight retail products can have statement on application "net weight applied prior to retail sale" instead of net weight statement.
- Mandatory information that is permitted to be displayed off the principal display panel
- Ingredients Statement
- Signature Line
- Nutrition Facts
Mandatory Feature Displayed Anywhere on Labeling
- Safe Handling Instructions