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Volume 12, Number 2 - February 2011

Hello from Food Label News. In this issue we cover the distinction between food labels and food labeling - it's a fine line to be sure. You'll also find an opportunity for you to get visibility for your work within your company and among your peers. As your virtual food labeling department, we're here to support you and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

In this issue you'll find:

Karen C. Duester, President


"This is fantastic! Thank you for getting the analyses done so quickly, especially with the holidays intervening."

– Phyllis Pellman Good, 
Good Books



Labels & Labeling: Splitting Hairs?

Not really. FDA has authority over labels for most food products. FTC has authority over advertising. Both FDA and FTC have authority over labeling. So what is the difference between "label" and "labeling"?

According to the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, the "label" is defined as the "written printed or graphic material on the immediate package" and "labeling" means "all labels and other written, printed, or graphic matters upon any article or any of its containers or wrappers, or accompanying such article." Therefore, labeling encompasses the label and all accompanying material on or near the package at the point of purchase.

Here are some examples:

  • Hang tag – This is an extension of the product label and is considered labeling. It must comply with FDA requirements and if there is any issue with non-compliance, FDA and/or FTC will step in to remedy the situation.

  • Shelf tag – This is accompanying material at the point of purchase and must comply with FDA regulations. Non-compliance issues would be handled by FDA and/or FTC.

  • Print or TV advertising – While any advertising claims must comply with FDA requirements as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, non-compliance issues are policed by FTC.

The bottom line? While FDA generally has authority over labels and labeling, when false claims are made in advertising or promotional material, FTC will get involved. In general, FTC levies harsher penalties and bigger fines. This underscores the importance for companies to follow all requirements for labels, labeling and promotional material to ensure communication is truthful and not misleading.

Helpful Links

CFR Title 21 for
FDA-regulated foods

CFR Title 9 for
USDA-regulated foods

FDA Food Labeling Guide

FTC Enforcement Policy on Food Advertising

USDA Policy Book for Food Standards and Labeling

Canadian Food & Drug Regulations

CFIA Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising

Silliker/Food Consulting Company Label Claims Guide

From the Archive

FDA Reminds on Food Label Claims

Expand your network in food labeling. Join the Food Label Community on LinkedIn

When a website URL appears on the printed label or accompanying material at the point of purchase, it is considered labeling and is under the jurisdiction of both FDA and FTC. However, when the URL is not printed on the label, the website is considered promotional material or advertising and while governed by FTC must still comply with all FDA regulations for food labeling.

Get Visibility for Your Work

We know that providing a compelling and informative label is a must-have to compete effectively in the market today. However as food labelers, when we do our job successfully, it often goes unnoticed.

To help you showcase your work and get noticed in your company, we are launching a case study program to shed light on important food label issues. We invite our valued clients to celebrate the work we've done together. We will select four to six companies to feature in this newsletter and on our website. In addition, you'll have the final case study to highlight your work – both internally and among your peers.

To be a part of the program, simply send an email to We look forward to hearing from you.

Here's to a win-win: logos for all companies who express an interest will be highlighted on our website. It's free marketing to improve your search engine rankings.

Reader Q&A

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


I work for the Anchorage school district for student nutrition and we have students that have an allergy to MSG. I need to know if it is used in CN-labeled foods?
S.H., School District, Alaska


Whenever MSG (monosodium glutamate) is added to a food, it must be declared in the ingredient statement. This is true for foods labeled for the Child Nutrition (CN) program or any other foods. There are some ingredients, however, that contain naturally occurring monosodium glutamate. This naturally occurring substance is the result of a free glutamate that combines with sodium in processing to create monosodium glutamate. Some ingredients that contain free glutamate are: yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. More reader questions.

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 well over 1,000 clients worldwide, we’re pleased to provide information to address your food labeling needs.

We value our relationships and are working to stay connected. To build your network, we invite you to connect with us via LinkedIn and while you’re there, join the Food Label Community.

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