Food Labeling



Governmental intervention in food labeling typically aims at improving human health and safety, supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries, and averting international trade disputes. Pursuant to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and its amendments, food labeling addresses nutritional information and is required for most prepared foods, such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, drinks, etc., whereas nutrition labeling for raw produce (fruits and vegetables) and fish is voluntary. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Agriculture Marketing Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1621-1638

Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1385

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1451-1461

Federal Alcohol Administration Act, 27 U.S.C. §§ 201-219a

Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 301-399

Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, 21 U.S.C § 343

Meat Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 606-611, 619

Poultry and Poultry Products Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 457-458



General Regulations for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, 9 C.F.R. Parts 300-381

Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, 9 C.F.R. 412-500

Inspection of Fish, 9 C.F.R. 530-561

Inspection of Eggs, 9 C.F.R. 590-592

Food Labeling, 16 C.F.R. Parts 500-503

General Regulations for the Enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 C.F.R. Parts 1-99

Food for Human Consumption, 21 C.F.R. Parts 100-169

Food Labeling, 21 C.F.R. Parts 101

Food Additives, 21 C.F.R. Parts 170-199

General FDA Dietary Supplement Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Part 190

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Food Labeling

Administrative Law Decisions

FDA Dockets Management

Federal Trade Commission Actions

Office of the Administrative Law Judges

USDA National Appeals Division

USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

Issue Brief: The Regulation of Cell-Cultured Meat (Rollins, Rumley 2019)

Plant Based “Milk” Labeling (Barker, Rumley, 2018)

Issue Brief: Petition for Policy Change in FSIS’ “Product of U.S.A.” Label (Lizano, Rumley)

Cattle Traceability: Potential Legal Implications (Rumley & Dowell)

State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)

Food Labeling for Specialty Crop Producers (E. Rumley, 2012)

Non-GMO Labeling (E. and R. Rumley, 2012)

Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture, 2011)

State-Level Catfish Labeling Laws (Springsteen, 2008)

United States Food Law Update II (Roberts, 2006)

United States Food Law Update (Roberts & Alsbrook, 2005)

European Union Food Law Update II (Coutrelis, 2006)

European Union Food Law Update (Coutrelis, 2005)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Animal Agriculture
Food Safety

Agricultural Law Bibliography

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Legal publications on Food Labeling:

Food and Drug Law
Fruits and Vegetables – Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides, Fertilizers

Reference Resources

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Selling Food to USDA
Grades and Standards

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
 (U.S. Department of Treasury)

Getting Started in the Beer Industry
Getting Started in the Distilled Spirits Industry
Getting Started in the Wine Industry
Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) Registry Database

Labeling Procedures

Economic Research Service

The Economics of Food Labeling
Consumer Information and Labeling

Federal Trade Commission

Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry
Fair Packaging and Labeling Act
FTC Health & Fitness Labeling

Food and Drug Administration

Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Draft Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering
Qualified Health Claims
Center for Veterinary Medicine: Pet Foods
Food Ingredients & Packaging
Food Label & Package Survey 2006-2007
Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

Food Labeling Fact Sheets
Labeling Policies
Ingredients Guidance
Labeling & Label Approval
Claims Guidance
A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements for Meat, Poultry and Egg Products (2007)

Other Federal Resources

Child Nutrition Labeling

National Agricultural Library Food and Nutrition Information Center (NAL)

Food Labeling Topic Page (NAL)

What’s In The Foods You Eat Search Tool (Agricultural Research Service)

FDA Needs to Better Leverage Resources, Improve Oversight, and Effectively Use Available Data to Help Consumers Select Healthy Foods (GAO-08-597)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce)

Marketplace Assessment – Metric Labeling on Packages in Retail Stores

International Resources

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Food Labelling


Ecolabelling and Fisheries Guidelines

Food Labelling

Labeling to Communicate

World Health Organization (WHO)

Nutrition Labels and Health Claims: The Global Regulatory Environment

What is Front-of-Pack Labelling?

Food Safety


World Trade Organization (WTO)

Trade and Food Standards

Nutrition labelling: A policy measure for promoting healthy diets

Dispute Settelement Gateway
Geographical Indications
TRIPS Agreement
WTO Publications

European Union

Regulation Concerning the Traceability and Labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms
Labelling & Nutrition


Agricultural and Food Law – Food Labeling and Biotechnology – The Food Fight over Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods and a Natural Solution to Protect Agricultural Biotechnology in the Natural State

GMO Litigation (Laney, 2016)

Food Labeling: Toward National Uniformity (National Academies Press, 1992)

Additional Resources

State Laws for School Snack Food and Beverages

Food and Drug Law Institute