Nutrition Facts labels for food processors

There are numerous regulatory and marketing considerations to keep in mind that may affect your business when it comes to Nutrition Facts labeling.

Side by Side Comparison of Nutrition Facts Formats
Side-by-side comparison of Nutrition Facts formats. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Nutritional labeling is required on many foods based on company sales volume and requires careful study for anyone manufacturing a food product to understand if they are required to provide the label, and to ensure they are using the correct format. The label itself, called Nutrition Facts as stipulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a specific label format that uses a standard serving measurement and lists the number of calories and specific nutrients in a food. Companies who use a Nutrition Facts label are required by the FDA to use the 2016 version of the label.

Any packaged food product, except meat, that is manufactured by a company with $500,000 or less in annual sales is generally exempt from providing a Nutrition Facts label, unless the product makes some type of health or nutrition claim. A claim could be something such as the food is “low in fat” or “high in fiber.” Small scale companies that do not make any claims are not required to provide a Nutrition Facts label. Check the FDA exemption information for more details and to ensure you are exempt.

While a Nutrition Facts label is optional for some foods, many consumers expect to see one the label and, therefore, it may be important for manufacturers of food products to take the extra step to provide this information.

Food processors who are exempt from the law need to think about if including a Nutrition Facts label is worth the investment. While not required by law, some grocery stores have a policy of requiring it on food products and if businesses wish to market their products to those stores, it may be a good investment. Having a Nutrition Facts label created is generally not an expensive item in a food product development budget and is an option that should be considered.

The Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Product Center provides business counseling and helps entrepreneurs launch new food products. One specialized service provided is the development of Nutrition Facts labels. Food businesses may contact the Product Center for assistance with labeling.

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