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Volume 13, Number 7 - July 2012

Hello from Food Label News. School is out for summer! As we strive to live well and make healthy food choices, we explore the labeling differences between conventional foods vs. dietary supplements. We also conclude our very popular series on examples of Nutrition Facts Labels. Happy reading and we look forward to hearing your feedback in the Food Label Community on LinkedIn. Enjoy your summer!

In this issue you'll find:


"Thank you so much for all your help and guidance. The information in the Label Layout Instructions memo is extremely valuable to me and the updated nutrition information looks great. Thank you again!"

– Ruth Wahnon, 
R&C International Commerce

Conventional Food vs. Dietary Supplements: It's a Fine Line

Examples of Nutrition Facts Labels:
Part 10 of 10

Reader Q&A: Meal Replacements

Food Label News: Reader Favorites


Karen C. Duester, President

Conventional Food vs. Dietary Supplements: It’s a Fine Line

With today’s focus on wellness and smart food choices, supplements for our daily diets are more popular than ever. Is there a difference between fortified foods and supplements? What about energy drinks? While there is a clear set of food labeling regulations for conventional foods and a distinct subset for dietary supplements, understanding the nuances takes care.

Let’s begin with some fundamental definitions: Dietary supplements are products taken by mouth that contain a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet. Dietary ingredients include vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, organ tissues, glandular, metabolites, extracts or concentrates. Conventional foods are commonly understood to be all foods, beverages, and chewing gums for human consumption that do not qualify as dietary supplements.

Some of the key formulation, labeling and marketing differences include:

Conventional foods are labeled with Nutrition Facts; dietary supplements are labeled with Supplement Facts.

Claims made on dietary supplements require FDA notification and a label disclaimer, while claims made on conventional foods do not.

Some ingredients can be added to dietary supplements that are not allowed in conventional foods.

Not all claims that are available for conventional foods are allowable for dietary supplements.

FDA has issued guidance to help companies determine whether a product should be labeled and marketed as a conventional food or a dietary supplement.

Reader Q&A


Is there a standard to call an FDA or USDA product a “meal replacement”?
S.T., Pennsylvania,
   Package Designer

A. Although there is no standard definition for “meal replacement”, there are four references in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations for this term. Read more.

See Reader Q&A archive for an additional 50+ questions.

Send us your question for an upcoming issue.

What's new in the
Food Label Community on


Allergen advisory statements

Rules for flavor labeling

Europe's debate: is stevia "natural"?

Disney's stand on advertising to kids

Join Food Label Community to stay informed.

Given the ambiguity that sometimes surrounds dietary supplements vs. conventional foods, manufacturers will want to make this determination early in the product development process. There are many ramifications for formulation, labeling and marketing. See a quick summary of available label claims and statements for these two classes of products on page 2 of our Regulatory Guide.

Examples of Nutrition Facts Labels: Part 10 of 10

We’re pleased to know that readers have appreciated this series of examples for Nutrition Facts Labels as evidenced by the extraordinarily high click through rate!

We highlighted regulations for different package sizes and special situations including single-serve packages, simplified label formats, dual declaration labels, aggregate labels, and bilingual labels. In addition, we provided a side-by-side comparison of Nutrition Facts for the U.S. and Canada.

Feel free to review these examples that provide a quick reference for food nutrition facts labels.

What matters in food labeling

Food Label News, now in its 12th year, is a monthly e-newsletter reaching nearly 7,000 subscribers around the world. This publication covers news and insights about food labels for manufacturers, distributors, product developers, suppliers, QA professionals, government officials, and academia. We welcome your colleagues to subscribe:


Reader Favorites:

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Food Consulting Company, founded in 1993, provide nutrition analysis, food labeling, and regulatory support to ensure 100% compliance with FDA regulations. We value the relationships we've developed with our 1,500+ clients worldwide and are working to stay connected. We invite you to join the Food Label Community on LinkedIn to build your network. For more information about Food Consulting Company, visit

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