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. §§ 201-219

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


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

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)

Food Purchase Specifications
Quality Standards

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

Advertising and Market Compliance
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

Economic Research Service

The Economics of Food Labeling
Labeling & Information Policy

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 and Labeling
Food Label & Package Survey 2006-2007
How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Panel

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)

Consumer Complaints and Protection

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)

Ecolabelling and Fisheries Guidelines
Labeling to Communicate

World Health Organization (WHO)

Nutrition Labels and Health Claims: The Global Regulatory Environment

World Trade Organization (WTO)

Dispute Settelement Gateway
Geographical Indications
TRIPS Agreement
WTO Publications

Agreement Between the United States and the European Community on Trade in Wine

Agreement Between the United States and Mexico on Trade in Tequila

European Union

Regulation Concerning the Traceability and Labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms
Labelling & Nutrition
Product Labelling and Packaging
Labelling of Animal Feed Materials

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code



GMO Litigation (Laney, 2016)

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

Additional Resources

Food Labeling Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

State Laws for School Snack Food and Beverages

Food and Drug Law Institute

Food Law Reference Site (Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, MI St. U.)