The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for assuring that foods sold in the United States are safe, wholesome and properly labeled. This applies to foods produced domestically, as well as foods from foreign countries. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act are the Federal laws governing food products under FDA's jurisdiction.
The FDA receives many questions from manufacturers, distributors, and importers about the proper labeling of their food products. This booklet is a summary of the required statements that must appear on food labels under these laws and their regulations. To help minimize legal action and delays, it is recommended that manufacturers and importers become fully informed about the applicable laws and regulations before offering foods for distribution in the United States.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which amended the FD&C Act requires most foods to bear nutrition labeling and requires food labels that bear nutrient content claims and certain health messages to comply with specific requirements. Although final regulations have been established and are reflected in this booklet, regulations are frequently changed. It is the responsibility of the food industry to remain current with the legal requirements for food labeling. All new regulations are published in the Federal Register prior to their effective date and compiled annually in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Summaries of new regulations (proposed regulations and final regulations) are posted on the FDA's Internet Website.
Under FDA's laws and regulations, label approval is not required to import or distribute a food product. Questions concerning the labeling of food products may be directed to:
Food Labeling and Standards Staff (HFS-820)
Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Food and Drug Administration
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740-3835
Telephone: (301) 436-2371