If your product will be packaged and sold at retail to the end-user, or sold wholesale to a firm that will sell the packaged product to the end-user at retail, you need to label your product.
This is a brief summary of the labeling regulations governing foods offered for sale in New York State. It is not meant to be all inclusive of all of the labeling requirements. It is strongly suggested that labels be submitted to this agency for review prior to printing.
Five Basic Label Requirements
There are five basic label requirements. They are:
Identity of food in package form
The principal display panel of a label for a food in package form shall bear as one of its principal features a statement of the identity of the commodity by its common or usual name.
Where a food is marketed in various forms (grated, sliced, diced, etc.) the particular form shall be considered as part of the identity statement.
- The statement of identity shall be present in bold type on the principal display panel and shall be in a size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter.
Name of manufacturer, packer, or distributor
In the case of a corporation, only the actual corporate name, and this may be preceded or followed by the name of the particular division involved.
In the case of an individual, partnership, or association, the name under which the business is conducted shall be used.
- When the food is not manufactured by the person whose name appears on the label, a qualifying phrase such as “Manufactured for _________”, “Distributed by ________”, or other expression of facts shall appear with the name.
Place of business
The place of business shall include the street address, city, state, and ZIP code.
The street address may be omitted if it is shown in a current city or telephone directory.
The ingredients shall be listed by their common or usual name in descending order of predominance by weight, on a single panel of the label.
The name of the ingredient shall be a specific name and not a collective name.
- If the ingredient is a designated spice, flavoring, or natural color, it need only be stated as spices, artificial color, or artificial flavor. Colorings subject to certification (FD&C) must be listed by their specific name, i.e. FD&C Yellow #5.
- If an ingredient used in the product conforms to a standard of identity or is a multi-ingredient product, its ingredients are required to be listed on the label.
- When blends of fats and/or oils are used, the common or usual name of each fat or oil used must be listed in parenthesis following the term vegetable shortening, animal fat, or marine oil.
- If an individual fat and/or oil ingredient is used, not a blend, the common name of that product must be listed in the correct order of predominance.
- No abbreviations of an ingredient’s common or usual name are permitted, unless explicitly provided for in the statutes.
- Water used in fabricated foods shall be declared on the label in its order of predominance.
Net quantity of contents
The principal display panel of a label for a food in packaged form shall bear a declaration of net quantity of contents.
The declaration shall be expressed in terms of avoirdupois pound and ounce, volume, and/or numerical count.
- The declaration shall appear as a distinct item within the lower 30 percent of the principal display panel. The declaration shall be printed in boldface print or type in letters and numbers in a size in relationship to the total square inches of the principal display panel.
- The declaration of net quantity of contents shall be expressed in the following terms:
- Weight (one pound, but less than four pounds) expressed in ounces and followed by the largest whole unit in parenthesis, i.e. NET WT. 24 OZ (1 LB 8 OZ).
- Fluid measure (one pint, but less than one gallon) expressed in fluid ounces and followed by the largest whole unit in parenthesis, i.e. 20 FL OZ (1 PT 4 OZ).
- A separate statement of the net quantity of contents in terms of the metric system is required to appear on the principal display panel as part of the required declaration, i.e. NET WT 9 OZ (255g) or 9 FL OZ (266 ml).
|Area of PDP||Minimum Type Size|
|5 sq. inches or less||1/16 inch (1.6 mm/6 point)|
|> 5 sq. inches, but < 25 sq. inches||1/8 inch (3.2mm/14 point)|
|> 25 sq. inches, but < 100 sq. inches||3/16 inch (4.8mm/20 point)|
General Label Information
Identity of Food
The statement of identity is the common or usual name of the food. For example: grated cheese, salsa, or cereal.
Principal Display Panel
The term “principal display panel” as it applies to food in packaged form means the part of the label that is mostly to be displayed, presented, shown or examined under customary conditions of display for retail sales. The principal display panel shall be large enough to accommodate all the mandatory label information required to be placed thereon with clarity and conspicuousness and without obscuring design, vignettes, or crowding.
The principal display panel of a label for a food in package form shall bear the identity of the commodity by its common or usual name, and a declaration of the net quantity of the contents.
The term “information panel” as it applies to packaged food means that part of the label immediately contiguous and to the right of the principal display panel as observed by an individual facing the principal display panel.
The information panel shall bear the ingredient declaration, name of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor, and the place of business.
Labeling Information Requirements
All information appearing on the principal display panel or information panel shall appear prominently and conspicuously, but in no case may the letters/numbers be less than one-sixteenth of an inch in height, except for those requirements previously addressed.
- All required label information shall appear in the English language.
- If the labeling bears any statutory information in a foreign language, all the required labeling information shall appear in both the foreign and English language.
If any food product is an imitation of another, and is nutritionally inferior to that product, it must be labeled “Imitation _____”, with the space being filled in with the name of the food imitated, and with the word “imitation” in type of uniform size and prominence as used for the name of the food.
A package or commodity in packaged form means any commodity put up or packaged in any manner in advance for retail sale. This should include cellophane wrapped products kept in a closed display case, even if these products need to be weighed and priced at the time of sale.
Information as to the requirements for inclusion of nutrition information on a label should be addressed to this agency.
Foods Manufactured Outside of the United States
When a food is manufactured outside of the United States, the law does not specifically require that the country of origin statement be placed on the principle display panel. However, the law does require that the country of origin be conspicuous.
If a domestic firm's name and address is declared as the firm responsible for distributing the product, then the country of origin statement must appear in close proximity to the name and address and be at least comparable in size of lettering.
Dairy Products Labeling
Advances in food technology and labeling changes in regulations have resulted in the development of a variety of reduced fat dairy products. Properly identifying these and all products, via product labels, gives consumers confidence to try new and healthy alternatives to traditional dairy products. Field staff review labels as part of their normal inspection responsibilities to ensure that consumers are provided with clear, accurate, and factual information on product content.
View the document below to learn more about labeling of dairy products.
Food Labeling for Dairy Products
A handout outlining food labeling requirements for dairy products.