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


Federal Register Rules Open for Comment
Food Additives, 21 C.F.R. Parts 170-199
Food for Human Consumption, 21 C.F.R. Parts 100-190
Food Labeling, 16 C.F.R. Parts 500-503
General FDA Dietary Supplement Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Part 190
General Regulations for the Enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 C.F.R. Parts 1-99
General Regulations for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, 9 C.F.R. Parts 300-381
Inspection of Fish, 9 C.F.R. 530-561
Inspection of Eggs, 9 C.F.R. 590-592
Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, 9 C.F.R. 412-500
National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, 7 CFR 66

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

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

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)

Bioengineered Disclosure
Grades and Standards
Selling Food to USDA

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

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

Economic Research Service (ERS)

The Economics of Food Labeling
Consumer Information and Labeling

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

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

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

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Draft Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Developed Using Bioengineering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

Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

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

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
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 Settlement 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