Food First Blog | Tip of the Week: Who Regulates Labeling on My P

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Tip of the Week: Who Regulates Labeling on My Products?
Tip of the Week: Who Regulates Labeling on My Products?

Over the years, there have been many attempts to consolidate the responsibilities for regulation of the food supply under one agency. To date, these attempts have failed. Currently, food and beverage labeling falls mainly under the purview of three agencies. However, the lines of division are not always clear.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulates products such as distilled spirits, malt beverages, and wine that is at least 7% alcohol. However, innovations in alcoholic beverages has led to alcoholic drinks that may not meet one of these classifications. For instance, the TTB has clarified that certain fermented beverages that are not made from both malted barley and hops but are instead made from substitutes for malted barley or are made without hops do not meet the definition of a “malt beverage”. Accordingly, TTB stated that such products (other than sake, which is classified as a wine), would mostly be regulated by the FDA. There are certain parts of the TTB regulations, such as the Government Health Warning, that would still have to be present on the labels of these products.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates meat, poultry, processed egg products and catfish. Meat products include beef, pork, meat from sheep, and goat’s meat while poultry includes products from any domesticated bird. Egg products that are out of their shell include dried, frozen, or liquid eggs. Recently, the responsibly for Siluriformes fish including catfish transitioned to the USDA’s responsibility. In general, foods that include 3% or more raw meat or at least 2% cooked meat or poultry are covered by the USDA. However, closed faced sandwiches are always under the Food and Drug Administration's purview, even if they contain meat.

All other foods and beverages are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to the malted beverages and closed faced sandwiches previously discussed, the FDA regulates many product categories including fish (other than Siluriformes), shellfish, game meat, fresh produce and dairy products.

If your food or beverage product does not meet the requirements for being regulated by the TTB or the USDA, it most likely falls under FDA regulations. In addition to these three agencies, there are other agencies involved in regulating labeling statements. For instance, foods of foreign origin are required by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to have a country of origin statement on the label. For additional help with determining who regulates your products and how to be compliant with those regulations, contact the Food Labeling Experts at AIB International.

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