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Written by Joan Hegerfeld-Baker (former SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist).
A food label package serves the primary purpose of communicating to the consumer key elements of the product. The labeling requirements vary in accordance with the type of food that is being sold and in several instances how or where it was prepared or processed. Below are several situations that pertain to prepared and processed foods sold at the farmers market.
Home Processed Canned Goods
Home processed canned goods must have labels on each container that is to be sold with the following (in accordance with the South Home Processed Food Law):
- Name of product – identify what it actually is. For example, “Cucumber Relish” cannot be called “Hot Dog Sauce”
- Name of producer and contact information
- Date the product was made or canned
- Ingredients (list ingredients in the product from the largest to the smallest in net weight or volume; actual weight or volume of ingredients does not need to be listed)
- Disclaimer that states the following: “This product was not produced in a commercial kitchen. It has been home-processed in a kitchen that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish.”
- The font size should be prominent, conspicuous and easy to read.
- SDSU (South Dakota State University) CANNOT be on your label. A statement regarding tested for safety is NOT allowed. SDSU (and other processing authorities) only verify your process for safety. They do not deem that a specific food is safe. SDSU or other processing authorities do not have daily control over the food produced in your kitchen (home or licensed).
Home Baked or Prepared Foods
Home baked or prepared foods that do not have to be temperature controlled for safety and sold at the farmers market must contain the same information as listed above for home canned products. If selling from a display case at the farmers market the information may be on the display case or made available in written format to the customer when purchased rather than having to wrap and label each individual item. For example, a tray of cookies or sliced quick breads in a display case.
Licensed Kitchens & Commercial Operations
Foods that are processed/canned or prepared/baked in a licensed kitchen or commercial operation and packaged for resale must adhere to labeling requirements of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety which often refer to the FDA Labeling Guidelines. The following must be on the label:
- Statement of identity (name of the product).
- Net Quantity in U.S. Customary System (ounces, pounds, fluid ounces) followed by metric in parenthesis:
- Net wt ____ oz. (____ g)
- Net wt ____ lb. ___ oz (____ g)
- This is the weight of the food only. To determine the Net wt., weigh the package empty and subtract from the package when full. Jams, jellies and acidified foods should be in Net wt, (not fluid ounces).
- Ingredient statements should include all the ingredients in the recipe in order of predominance, by weight. The ingredient statement must include common names. The sub-ingredients of a food that is an ingredient in another food may be declared parenthetically following the name of the ingredient. For example, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed, Soybean).
- Major food allergens must be listed directly below the ingredient statement. The term “Contains:” must be listed first followed by the allergens present in the food. The major allergens are milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts (list the specific nut), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
- Name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. If not the manufacturer, the qualifying phrases may be “distributed by”, “packaged by” or “manufactured for.”
- A nutrition facts panel may be required on prepared packaged foods.
Nutrition Facts Exemptions
The following items and situations are exempt from a nutrition facts panel:
- fresh produce
- egg cartons
- small businesses, less than or equal to $500,000 in total sales, or $50,000 in product sales (retail businesses or wholesalers may require a nutrition facts panel regardless of the size of the business)
- food packaged and sold directly to consumers where prepared
Food Labeling to meet the regulations at the FDA level can be a complex and time consuming task. Each product and situation will have different needs. If producers, vendors label designers are interested in meeting the FDA labeling guidelines for a product and need some assistance or guidance, contact an SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist.
For assistance with labeling of packaged foods refer to the Food and Drug Administration Food Labeling Guide. Go to www.fda.gov and search for “food labeling guide.” Or, contact the SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialists Office at 605.688.5161.