We Are All Suckers For A Good Label

Poultry “C” Grade

The FDA and USDA control the game, who are they and what do they do?

The USDA and FDA are two totally different entities when it come to food package labeling, and they have us running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to make sense of it all. Since the beginning times of labeling food products here in America, there has been a lack of strict and clear regulation resulting in a food labeling chaos for consumers to deal with. And its not getting any better. Both the USDA and the FDA oversee labeling for food items sold in the United States. The labels on products regulated by these two entities do share many common features, such as statement of identity, net quantity declaration, nutrition label, ingredient statement and responsible party information. However, there are some differences in the information found on their respective labels.

The FDA

The Food and Drug Administration 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 and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act are the Federal laws governing food products under FDA’s jurisdiction. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic 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. To find out more in depth labeling requirements, take a look at the FDA’s 132-page Food Labeling Guide found online. The FDA does in fact conduct inspections of regulated facilities to determine a firm’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, such as the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and related Acts.

The USDA

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for preventing food borne hazards and overseeing the labeling and packaging of foods. It inspects local farms, regulates national food safety policies and educated the public on how to safely handle food. This agency also sets forth policies on how food is produced and labeled. For example, if a product claims to be allergen-free, the Food Safety and Inspection Service dictates that the manufacturing facility must adhere to strict policies to prevent contamination. This regulation is critical in creating consumer trust in grocery store labels.

The USDA inspects, beef, cotton, dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, flowers and plants, fruits, goats, grain, lamb, nuts, organic, pork, poultry, rabbits, rice and pulses, specialty products, tobacco, vegetables, wool and mohair.

Butter Label

Published by Jason Stroh

I am a Los Angeles based food stylist and chef

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