You're ready to start your packaged food business but before you jump in, you need to know about labels. So today we're going to talk about FDA labels. Before you can sell your product under most circumstances, you'll definitely need a label. I'll share the two things you need to know about labels and a point of caution to help you avoid massive fines.
There are two purposes for a label for your products. The first is marketing and branding. As consumers, we're overwhelmed by decision fatigue. There are so many choices in each product category that it can be overwhelming. One way that consumers make decisions is by judging the product by its branding. So put some thought into what your branding and packaging is communicating.
There are a couple of different marketing components your label should have. It should have your logo - your brand name. It should have what differentiates your product, you might have heard this as your unique selling position, USP, or as I like to talk about it, what makes your product defensibly unique. This is the thing that's going to help you stand out on the shelf and attract customers to your product. It could be flavor or a health claim or some certification.
The second thing is compliance. The FDA regulates labels and there will be some things that are required to be on your label. The mandatory things are going to be your layout - there's a very specific structure to where things go, what size they are, font sizes, etc. I'd definitely recommend working with a graphic designer who's familiar with FDA regulations when creating your label. In addition to the layout, you'll need a statement of identity. You need to tell your consumer what the product is in plain language. You'll need to include the net weight or fluid ounces the product is, not including the weight of the packaging.
The next thing required is an ingredient list, in order of highest to lowest volume. This also includes sub-ingredients. So if you're using vanilla extract, you have to list what went into that vanilla extract. The label needs to include what allergens are in the product and the last required factor is the manufacturing information. This would be the name you're producing the product under.
Now that we've gotten through the required items on your label, there is an optional items you could add. There's the nutrition facts panel. This is only optional if you make under 100,000 units of that product a year, so if you're a small business you can file for that exemption. The FDA is making some changes to this regulation in 2021, so make sure you keep up to date on the new information.
Now for my cautionary advice to you. Make sure everything you put on the label is accurate. Once it's on the label, you're liable for it. If they find any inaccurate information on the label, including the weight of the product, you can be given a very large fine. So you want to ensure that all the information is accurate.
So there's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to FDA labels. My recommendation is that you talk with an expert when you're creating your labels or at the very least have your labels reviewed by an expert to ensure that your packaging matches your branding, your product is FDA compliant and everything is accurate.
If you have more questions, I have some great resources on my website and I'd suggest checking out my business checklist. It's a step by step guide of all the things that you need to do to start that food business.
Also, if you want to join a community of other food business entrepreneurs, I highly encourage you to check out my Facebook group, you can ask to join that group and be among other food business entrepreneurs.