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Volume 11, Number 9 - September 2010


Hello from Food Label News. It's back to school and we're continuing our instructional series about the Must-Haves for FDA Food Labels. In addition, we give you insights into the frequent concern: how to reduce your regulatory risk. As always, we look forward to hearing your comments and what's on your mind regarding your food labeling needs!

In this issue you'll find:

Karen C. Duester, President


"Too many thanks!!! We're so happy we got this back so quickly. When you do the work, we know it's done right! All the best."

– Luda Sery, 
Joe Corbi's Wholesale Pizza, Inc.



Reducing Your Regulatory Risk

Our mission as food labelers is to appropriately communicate food and nutrition information to consumers. While there are clear and specific regulations governing what we can and cannot do on food labels, there are also some shades of gray. How do you navigate the ambiguities?

There are a number of go-to sources that offer direction, including U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, FDA’s Food Labeling Guide, CFIA’s Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising, Silliker Nutrient and Health Claims U.S. and Canadian Regulatory Guide, and Food Label News.

At Food Consulting Company, our approach to ambiguity in the regulations is a skillful process. It starts with our intimate understanding of the regulations and extends to research of other published government documents, actions by consumer interest groups, and industry best practices. With that background, we consult with all client constituents including: Regulatory, R&D, Marketing, Legal, and Management. This is where the fun begins.

Tips to keep you sane during the process:


Be clear about objectives and what is important to each department

Step back and make sure there is no chance of misleading the consumer

Get outside counsel for an independent opinion

Be open – there’s more than one way to resolve the issue; for example, a minor reformulation may be all that’s needed

Consider a partner who can contact the FDA anonymously to investigate nuances on your behalf

Keeping You Current

FDA issues Q&A guidance for implementing restaurant menu labeling provisions

CSPI continues to pressure industry about "all natural" food labels

U.S. Senate passes S.3307 to set healthier standards for all foods in schools; a similar House bill is pending; AP report

FDA's updated list of all CFSAN guidance documents currently in use (scroll to Section V about 3/4 of the way down)

From the Archive

Say “YES” to Marketing

Search the archive here


Such negotiation is one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of our jobs as food labelers. It often extends beyond our understanding of the regulations. Successful resolution is largely a function of our people skills and "can-do" attitude.

5 Must-Haves for FDA Food Labels:
Instructional Series Part 2 of 5

In last month's issue, we began a series about the five required components for every FDA regulated food label and covered the first requirement: Product Identity. This second in the series focuses on the Net Contents Statement.

Net Contents Statement

This portion of the food label is designed to quantify the contents of the package for consumers. It must be in the lower 30% of the principle display panel (PDP) generally parallel to the base of the container. The net contents statement should not be crowded with other words or pictures.

Examples of correctly written net contents statements:

  • NET WT 12 OZ (340g)

  • NET WT 24 OZ (1 LB 8 OZ) 680g

  • NET 16 FL OZ (473mL)

There are requirements for the minimum height of lettering and spacing surrounding the net contents statement. Height of lettering requirements are:

  • 1/16" for PDP's with 5 square inches or less

  • 1/8" for PDP's with 5 – 25 square inches

  • 3/16" for PDP's with 25 – 100 square inches

  • 1/4" for PDP's with 100 – 400 square inches

  • 1/2" for PDP's with over 400 square inches

There must also be an adequate buffer surrounding the net contents statement. Regulations specify that this must be at least equal to the space of "N" of "NET" in the net contents statement above and below and space at least equal to "NN" to the right and left of complete net contents statement.

Some food labelers question the requirement to include metric declaration in the net contents statement. Public Law (P.L. 102-329) requires this declaration and FDA's food labeling guide confirms the requirement. Despite the fact that it has not been written into the official Code of Federal Regulations, it is common practice (and the law!) to include metric declaration for FDA-regulated products. Ironically USDA does not require a metric declaration in the net contents statement, but we recommend that it be included to comply with the Public Law.

Reader Q&A

Find answers to our readers' questions or send us your question for an upcoming issue.


Could you give me the current status on labeling for gluten-free products. What are the rules?
L.W., Dietitian, Iowa


The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) mandated that FDA establish a definition for the term "gluten-free" and uniform conditions for its use in the labeling of foods. FDA has published a proposed rule for "gluten-free". Read more.

At Your Service

Food Consulting Company, founded in 1993, provides nutrition analysis, food labeling and regulatory support to ensure 100% compliance with FDA regulations. With over 1,000 clients worldwide, Food Consulting Company's services are ideal for start-up and established food manufacturers, distributors, food importers, brokers, and restaurateurs. Contact Us for more information about your food labeling needs.

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