food labels on tomato sauce

Food Label Checklist: 4 Steps for FDA-Compliant Nutrition Labels

Large companies like Frito-Lay and grocery store Fresh Market have faced lawsuits over misleading food labels in the last couple of years. Frito-Lay got sued twice for their chip flavors. The latest case says they shouldn't advertise the chips as "sour cream and cheddar flavored" because they use artificial flavoring. A class action lawsuit was filed against Fresh Market for the absence of nutrition labels on its bakery products. These examples show how crucial it is for all business owners to prioritize proper food and nutrition labeling, whether you’re a big food company or a small business. Misleading or inaccurate labels not only compromise consumer trust but also jeopardize the reputation and credibility of your business.

Ensuring accurate and honest food labels may seem tedious at first. But by following these four steps, you’ll set your product and business on the right track

  1. Avoid Exaggerated and Misleading Claims

  2. In 2020, 220 lawsuits were filed against food and beverage companies—a number that’s gone up from 45 compared to a decade ago, according to law firm Perkin Coie. Many advocacy groups have filed class-action lawsuits against these companies’ deceptive marketing, which includes Tyson. The food giant is being sued for allegedly misleading consumers about their "all-natural chickens." The lawsuit claims that the chickens are mass-produced in crowded sheds contaminated with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
    Apart from legal battles, cases like Tyson’s highlight the profound impact of misleading labeling on consumer trust. For any small business, being transparent with your labeling practices is essential. Avoid exaggerating any claims you want to market; don’t put anything that misleads customers. Be sure you have scientific evidence to back up any product claims, especially if you’re claiming to have “natural” ingredients or any word that implies your food is healthy, like “fat-free” or having “reduced sugar.” You can also double-check if specific claims require a certification process, as seen in the steps for acquiring a USDA Organic Label.

  3. List All of Your Product’s Ingredients

  4. A complete list of ingredients is not just a legal FDA requirement but also a crucial aspect of consumer safety and your customer’s informed decision-making. Consumers pay attention to a food’s components, as shown when a Florida woman sued General Mills for not revealing that Cheerios had glyphosate. Despite the ruling swinging in General Mills’ favor, General Mills was subject to negative publicity and likely broke the trust of some consumers. To avoid a similar situation, include all your item’s relevant ingredients—including allergens or additives that can have profound health implications for consumers. Even minor omissions can result in allergic reactions or other adverse effects. Run your item through rigorous product testing to determine all the ingredients in your products.

  5. Quadruple Check Your Serving Sizes

  6. Inaccurate serving sizes on food or nutrition labels can also lead to legal issues. Folgers Coffee Co. and its parent company, J.M. Smucker, were sued for overestimating the servings in a ground coffee canister. The FDA requires serving sizes to show how much people eat in one sitting. Otherwise, they might end up consuming more or fewer calories than communicated. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your advertised serving size is accurate: · Computing for the serving size starts with the Recommended Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). If your product is in ready-to-eat form, check out the FDA guidance document for RACC items. Locate your food item type on this document and then apply the FDA’s recommendation according to the RACC with its unit in grams. · If you're dealing with items like ice cream or multi-component foods, imitation items, or products that need more preparation, check out the General Provisions of Food Labeling for notes on finding the RACC. Another option is to use the serving size of a similar product as a starting point. · Use the RACC to find the serving size of the product. Just portion it out based on the RACC and measure it in cups, pieces, or a fraction of the package to get the size in familiar units. · Compute the number of serving sizes in one package or product. Weigh your entire item or count the number of pieces, then divide that number by the RACC or serving size. For complete instructions on determining your food product’s serving size, check out this step-by-step guide from LabelCalc.

  7. Ensure All FDA-Required Details are Clear on the Nutrition Label

  8. The FDA’s label requirements ensure consumers have access to vital information such as ingredients, serving size, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Otherwise, you might end up like Fresh Market, which faced a proposed class action with a complaint stating that the company “attempted to skirt its legal obligation to label its bakery goods properly.” To avoid spending on legal fees, review all the FDA-required information on nutrition labels. Ensure these are all on the label and follow the prescribed clear, easy-to-read format for nutritional facts. Don’t use cluttered layouts, small font sizes, and poor formatting, as these can make it difficult for consumers to read. For the rest of your food label, steer clear of industry jargon and unexplained terms to ensure clarity and understanding for the average consumer. Use plain language as much as possible. Before launching your product, take the time to review all aspects of the label. Ensure every detail is accurate, concise, and accessible to your target audience. Design Your FDA-Compliant Food Labels Online Food business owners, manufacturers, and packers must follow labeling regulations to stay compliant and avoid lawsuits. By following these steps meticulously, you uphold your business’ reputation and show customers your commitment to their health and safety. Ready to create accurate, honest, and FDA-compliant nutrition labels? Check out the different labels you can design on PrintRunner. We offer waterproof and UV-resistant materials and finishes that elevate the clarity and quality of your label’s information. Design a food and nutrition label customers will trust today.