The mission of the food labeling program is to help manufacturers, producers, and distributors understand and comply with Labeling laws and rules thus ensuring products offered for sale in the State will be completely and correctly labeled. This information will enable consumers to choose products that meet their particular health and lifestyle needs.There are three main purposes for the food label review program:
1. To assist manufacturers in correctly designing food labels
The State of Utah through the Utah Code Annotated (UCA) has adopted the regulations promulgated under the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act as set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). With the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new rules and regulations which completely overhauled the science of designing labels, especially the use, format, and design of the Nutrition statement. The purpose of this program is to assist manufacturers to understand state and federal label requirements and to assist them in designing labels that will comply with those requirements. This is a label “review” process, not an “approval” process.
Label reviews help new producers avoid costly reprinting of incorrect labels and lessens the possibility that regulatory agencies in other jurisdictions will take mislabeled product “off sale” for labeling violations or omissions
2. To protect consumers and provide a basis for an informed buying decision
All packaged food items are required to be labeled with the following information before being offered for sale:
- An appropriately descriptive name of the food.
- A net quantity statement telling the customer how much product is being offered for the price charged.
- A complete list of all ingredients in the product.
- The name and address of the manufacturer, producer, or distributor.
- A Nutrition Facts statement (unless the food qualifies for an exemption from this portion of the label.
The ingredient information becomes especially crucial to consumers with food allergies and/or sensitivities or other dietary restrictions. Reports of allergic reactions to incompletely or incorrectly labeled foods continue to increase. The U S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiates food product recalls when foods are discovered to contain unlabeled ingredients which are known allergens. After label corrections are made, the foods may be returned to the marketplace
3. To prevent fraud, misrepresentation, and unfair competition
This helps protect both consumers and manufacturers. Compliance officers performing inspections collect labels they suspect are fraudulent and/or misrepresentative and bring them in for review. When all producers follow the same labeling rules, it creates an even playing field preventing unscrupulous persons from misrepresenting their product to deceive consumers and to create unfair advantage for themselves.
The label review program helps assure that consumers get complete and accurate information in a uniform format on all food products. Correct and complete food labels help to protect consumers and contribute to a safe and healthful food source for all of us. However, consumers are still ultimately responsible to read and understand the label and make choices based on their personal needs.
HOW THE FOOD LABELING REVIEW PROCESS WORKS
All food products that are packaged in advance of sale must be completely and correctly labeled before being offered for sale. The information required on labels includes:
- Common or usual name of the product (which must be fully descriptive and not misleading)
- Net quantity statement
- Name and address of the producer, manufacturer, or distributor
- Ingredient statement, with ingredients listed in descending order of predominance by weight.
- Nutrition Facts statement following the FDA approved format (unless exempt).
The State of Utah reviews food labels for compliance to these rules and regulations. Utah manufacturers/producers should make a sketch of their labels and send them in to be reviewed before having them printed.
Labels for review are identified in several ways. Incorrect/incomplete labels are identified during store inspections. Compliance officers assisting food manufacturers to get approval for their food production facility refer them to the Labeling Specialist, for assistance in designing correct labels for their products. Packets with labeling guidelines are mailed to people who contact the Department with questions about requirement for food processing and sales. Some people contact the Department as a result of information posted on our website.
When labels are received, they are reviewed as quickly as time permits. Difficult questions are referred to FDA for assistance. Most label reviews are written, e-mailed, faxed, or mailed to the producer or manufacturer with a copy kept in the file. Labels needing little correction may be discussed over the phone with the person submitting the labels. People can call for an appointment to discuss their labels in person. If they aren’t fluent in English, they should arrange to bring an interpreter with them. Basic labeling guidelines are available in Spanish as well as English.
Send the rough drafts of your labels to:
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food
PO Box 146500
Salt Lake City UT 84114-6500
ADDITIONAL LABELING INFORMATION
- Food Allergen Labeling Summary
- Packaging and Labeling of Commodities (R070-920)
- Basic Labeling Guidelines
- Basic Labeling Guidelines in Spanish
- Common Labeling Errors
- Nutrition Facts Statement and Instructions
- Nutrition Facts Exemptions
- 21 CFR 101.9 – Nutrition Labeling, Small Business Exemption
- Small Business Exemption – Simplified Version
- Small Business Exemption Application Form English-language labeling requirements for products labeled in a foreign language
- The entire Code of Federal Regulations (searchable)
- Full text of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
- FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Labeling and Nutrition Information