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Food Product Labeling

Properly labeling food products is essential. All food labels must comply with all applicable state and federal regulations and must be truthful and not misleading. Improperly labeled food is considered misbranded which could result in a product recall and/or other enforcement action. This page provides information on what is required to be on a food label. The examples provided are one way to present the required information.

REMINDER OF NEW FDA COMPLIANCE DATE REQUIREMENTS (these dates are for those foods regulated by FDA and does not currently include USDA regulated foods):

Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales must switch to the new label by January 1, 2020
Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales must switch to the new label by January 1, 2021

Please reference Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label for more information.


Food Product Labeling

I. Product of Identity - Reference: Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 21, Part 101.3:

Name of product that provides proper description.

II. Statement of Ingredients - Reference: CFR 21, Part 101.4

A.  Complete breakdown of Ingredients (with sub-ingredients) listed by common or usual name in descending order of predominance by weight.

B.  An ingredient which itself contains two or more ingredients shall be designated in the statement of ingredients on the label of such food:

By declaring the established common or usual name of the ingredient followed by a parenthetical listing of all ingredients contained therein in descending order of predominance.

C.  When listing vegetable shortening or oil, the type shall also be listed, e.g., Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil.  If hydrogenated, this must be specified.

III. Statement of Responsibility - Reference: CFR 21, Part 101.5

The label of a food in packaged form shall specify conspicuously the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor.  Where the food is not manufactured by the person whose name appears on the label, the name shall be qualified by a phrase that reveals the connection such person has with such food; e.g., Manufactured for___ Distributed by___, or any other wording that expresses the facts.  The statement of the place of business shall include the street address, city, state and zip code. However, the street address may be omitted if it is shown in a current telephone directory.   A telephone number is not required. Note:  A telephone no., Email address, or web site cannot be used in lieu of the statement of responsibility requirement.

A qualified facility that submitted attestation to the US Food and Drug Administration that the facility is in compliance with State, local, county, tribal, or other applicable non-federal food safety laws, must provide notification to consumers as to where the food was manufactured or processed in the following manner: 
     (1) If food packaging label is required, the street address or P.O. Box, city, state, and zip code must appear prominently                 and conspicuously on the label of the food.
     (2) If food packaging is not required, the street address or P.O. Box, city, state, and zip code must appear prominently ad               conspicuously on the at the point of purchase on a label, poster, sign, placard, or on documents delivered with the food             in the normal course of business, or in an electronic notice in the case of internet sales.

IV. Declaration of net quantity of contents - Reference: CFR 21, Part 101.7
Dual declaration – Reference: Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, Title 15 – Chapter 39, §1453 (a)(2)

Net quantity of contents shall be separately and accurately stated in a uniform location upon the principal display panel of the label, using the most appropriate units in both the customary inch/pound system of measure and the SI metric system.  Either one may follow the other parenthetically.  SI means – International System of Units

The term ‘Net Wt.’ is used to represent solid/mass type products.  Use of the terms “Net” or “Net Contents” in terms of fluid measure or numerical count is optional.  It is sufficient to distinguish avoirdupois ounce (system of weights and measure that is based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains and equal to 453.59 grams) from fluid ounce through association of terms; for example, “Net wt. 6 oz” or “6 oz Net wt.” and “6 fl oz” or “Net contents 6 fl oz”.

The quantity of contents shall be placed on the principal display panel.  It shall be within the bottom 30 percent of the area of the label panel in lines that are generally parallel to the bottom of the package as it is designed to be displayed.
A declaration of net quantity of contents is permitted to be blown, molded or embossed on a glass or plastic surface of the container as long as all other required labeling information is available on the principal display panel.

Exemption: The requirement that the net quantity of contents include the SI metric system does not apply to:

  • Foods that are packaged at the retail store level
  • Meat products subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act
  • Poultry products subject to the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act

Note:  Labeling requirements for Net Quantity of Contents is under the purview of the ODA Division of Weights and Measures. Local enforcement is provided by Weights and Measures located in the Auditor’s office at the county court house of that particular county.

V. Refrigeration or Frozen

A.  If a product is required to be refrigerated during display or after opening, the label should provide the following phrases respectively on display panel:  Keep Refrigerated or Refrigerate after Opening

  • Shell eggs must be labeled with safe handling instructions which include a refrigeration statement.

B.  If a product should be kept frozen for proper storage, then the label should provide this information on the principal display panel.

VI. Nutritional Labeling – Exemptions - Reference: CFR 21, Part 101.9 (j)

A.  Retail exemption:
Food offered for sale by a retailer who has annual gross sales of food to consumers of not more than $50,000; or has total annual gross sales, of food/non-food items to consumers of not more than $500,000 is exempt from nutritional labeling provided no nutritional claims are made.

$50,000 or less $500,000 or less Exempt
$50,000 or less $500,001 or more Exempt
$50,001 or more $500,000 or less Exempt
$50,001 or more $500,001 or more Not Exempt

Ready-to-eat food products that are manufactured on site by the retail firm and not sold outside of that retail firm are exempt provided no nutritional claims are made.

B.  Manufacturer/Wholesaler exemption:

A firm with fewer than 100 full time employees (FTE’s) and less than 100,000 units sold in the previous year is exempt from nutritional labeling provided no nutritional claims are made.

An establishment that wholesales product must submit annual notification to FDA to maintain existing exemption.
NOTE: a firm with less than 10 employees and less than 10,000 units sold does not have to apply to FDA for an exemption).

VII. Sale Dates – Reference: Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3715.171;
Expiration Date – Reference: 21 CFR 107.20(c); ORC 3715.521

Food products that begin to diminish in quality in 30 days or less must be marked with a sale date that is easily understood by the consumer and indicates the period of peak quality.

Exemptions: The following are not required to be labeled with a sale date

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables or meat, including poultry, whether packaged or unpackaged,
  • Packaged perishable food products when sold or offered for sale at any place of business where the total annual sales of all products sold is not more than $100,000.

“Best if Used By,” “best before,”  “best if used before,” “Sell by,” “use by,” and “use before” means the date by which the manufacturer, processor, or packager of a packaged food product recommends that the food product be sold for consumption based on the food product's quality assurance period.  These types of products may be sold past this date.

Expiration Date – the specific products that are not permitted to be sold past this date include: over-the-counter drugs, baby food, and infant formula*.
*The term required on infant formula products is "use by" date, not "expiration" date.


We do not regulate the UPC code. 

FDA 's Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils

On June 17, 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and established an initial compliance date of June 18, 2018. This three-year time frame was established to allow manufacturers time to reformulate food products, use up existing product inventories, and sell existing product inventories. That initial three-year period has expired. However, foods made with petitioned uses of PHOs can continue to be used until June 18, 2019.

What you need to know: 

  • After June 18, 2018 most foods cannot be made with PHOs.
  • Foods made with PHOs before June 18, 2018, cannot be distributed or sold on or after January 1, 2020. This compliance date is to allow for foods currently on the market to work their way through distribution.
  • The Grocery Manufacturers Association petitioned FDA to allow for certain uses of PHOs. That petition was denied, however compliance dates for foods manufactured with those petitioned uses were extended. The compliance date for manufacturers to stop adding PHOs to such foods is June 18, 2019. Additionally, foods produced with these petitioned uses of PHOs, have until January 1, 2021 to work their way through distribution.  
  • Petition uses are: 
    • Use as a pan release agent for baked goods 
    • Use as a solvent or carrier, or a component thereof, for flavoring agents, flavor enhancers, and coloring agents intended for food use
    • Use as a processing aid, or a component thereof.
  • Restaurants and food distributors have an obligation to ensure that the foods they make, distribute, sell or otherwise market are compliant with this final determination regarding PHOs.
A summary of the compliance dates is below:

                                                             Non-Petitioned Uses

  Compliance Date
Stop manufacturing food with non-petitioned uses of PHOs June 18, 2018
Stop distribution/sale of foods that were manufactured with non-petitioned uses of PHOs before June 18, 2018 January 1, 2020


                                                                 Petitioned Uses*
  Compliance Date
Stop manufacturing food with the petitioned uses of PHOs June 18, 2019
Stop distribution/sale of foods that were manufactured with petitioned uses of PHOs before June 18, 2019 January 1, 2021

*Petitioned uses exclude use in dietary supplements

Additional information regarding the final determination can be found on FDA’s website at https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm449162.htm 


For labeling violations or label review:

The ODA Division of Food Safety should be notified when labeling violations are identified on food products that were not packaged at the retail level; and food products packaged at retail for distribution. Labels may be submitted to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for review:

Mailing address:  
Ohio Department of Agriculture
Division of Food Safety 
8995 E. Main Street
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068
Email – foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov       

For other labeling requirements see below:

Apple Cider and Juice Labeling

Home Bakery Labeling

Cottage Food Labeling

Small Egg Producers - Egg Carton Labeling

Maple Syrup Labeling

Honey Labeling