FDA Packaging Guidelines for Chocolate???

Matt4
@mattworks
10/27/15 01:15:36AM
12 posts

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone can help me out with information about FDA regulations on packaging a food product like chocolate. It can't be as simple as just nutritional info and a foil wrapper. I want to start selling my chocolate but also don't want to get fined or even sued. I've read through the FDA website but it seems so generalized.  Any information of refernces will be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

Matt

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@michael-arnovitz
10/27/15 03:02:49AM
59 posts

Most likely your state Department of Agriculture handles the licensing for food processing. At least that's the way it works here in Oregon. In any case the relevant agency where you live will send you that info once you tell them you want to get licensed. I know that here in Oregon they actually want to see your packaging before they license you in order to make sure you've done it correctly. Again, in your state things may work differently so check. If they don't offer the info make sure you ask for it. There are specific requirements, but it's really not that complicated. Also, if you are a small business you are exempt from some of the requirements. 

In the meantime you might try this link. It has way more info than you actually need for your chocolate, but it's a good place to start: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM265446.pdf

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
10/27/15 04:32:09PM
527 posts

Unfortunately there's no single defined solution for you.  There are simply too many variables.  Are you going to sell wholesale?  Are you going to sell online?  Are you simply going to offer your products exclusively out of your store?  These all require different labelling, and the requirements difffer from state to state, and province to province.

Welcome to beaurocracy.

 

Clay Gordon
@clay
11/04/15 05:03:42PM
1,680 posts

Matt -

You might want to look into the small business nutrition labeling exemption. As a small business (under something like 500 employees and $50,000,000 in sales) you are not required to put a nutrition label on a package, especially if it it's small. And I think federal law trumps state law on this. You do however, have to have the nutrition information available and it has to be easily accessible. But, I am not a lawyer and you should check.

That said, some retail outlets will demand it, along with UPC codes. Ingredients labels with allergen statements should be considered mandatory no matter what the regs require. 

As you are in the US you only need to really worry about internationalization if you find yourself selling outside the US. As near as I know there are no special requirements unless you are wholesaling to a retailer unless the retailer requires it for liability reasons.




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Thomas Snuggs
@thomas-snuggs
04/20/16 01:20:55AM
23 posts

Does one need to be Organic certified in order to note an ingredient as Organic? I know you have to be certified to say 'Organic' or 'Made with Organic Ingredients', or use the USDA Organic symbol on the front label. I thought anyone can list an ingedient as Organic if the ingredient is certified. I'm in California and have been told by someone at the health department that I can't unless I'm certified. Although I have seen other chocolates labeled this way and I do not think they were certified producers. I've read lots of info on the FDA website and it seems to me that I should be able to do so. However, California has its own Organic certification as well. Just thought I would post the question here in case anyone on this forum knows. Thanks.

Powell and Jones
@powell-and-jones
04/20/16 02:42:49AM
30 posts

Thomas, I think the advice you were given by CDPH is correct. Specifically: Organic Chocolate is regulated food product in California, rules enforced by CDPH,  think you will find if your gross sales are over $5000 and you have organic in your label (even made with organic...) you are required to register  see:

ORGANIC OVERSIGHT - LAWS AND REGULATIONS:

Laws relating to the handling of organic foods are codified in the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the California Organic Products Act of 2003 (COPA), and the National Organic Program (NOP) Regulations (which California adopts).

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) work cooperatively with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enforce the organic regulations within California.  CDPH oversees processors and handlers of organic food, pet food, and cosmetics, and CDFA oversees organic agricultural production, milk and dairy food processing, meat and poultry processing, and retail organic production activities.

If an operation’s annual gross sales of organic food is greater than $5,000 they are required to obtain certification from an accredited third party certifier, who will verify the sourcing of the agricultural inputs, verify the organic content of processed products, and ensure that operations are conforming with NOP regulations

Organic is a term that indicates that the food or agricultural product has been produced using sustainable practices and without synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering.  Products may be labeled “100% organic”, “organic” or “made with organic.” 

Food products labeled as “100% organic” must consist entirely of organic ingredients; food products labeled “organic” must consist of 95% certified organic ingredients; and food products labeled “made with organic” must contain at least 70% certified organic ingredients (minus water and salt).  Food products containing 95% or more organic content may use the USDA Organic Logo on their product labels or advertising.  Unless exempted or excluded under the National Organic Program (NOP) rules, all organic food products must be certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA), and the ACA must be identified on the product label.


updated by @powell-and-jones: 04/20/16 02:49:20AM
Thomas Snuggs
@thomas-snuggs
04/20/16 10:55:47PM
23 posts

I have an update about my Organic Ingredients question. I contacted www.ccof.com to inquire about oOrganic certification and they told me I did not require certification for what I want to do. I quote from their email response:

"If all you want to do is list the organic ingredients in the FDA-required ingredient list, and not use the word organic anywhere else on your label, you do not need to be certified."

This is what I thought and was surprised by County Health Department when they told me I could not. 

Powell and Jones
@powell-and-jones
04/20/16 11:11:57PM
30 posts

Thomas Snuggs:

I have an update about my Organic Ingredients question. I contacted www.ccof.com to inquire about oOrganic certification and they told me I did not require certification for what I want to do. I quote from their email response:

"If all you want to do is list the organic ingredients in the FDA-required ingredient list, and not use the word organic anywhere else on your label, you do not need to be certified."

This is what I thought and was surprised by County Health Department when they told me I could not. 

As we both wrote Organic on the Front LABEL.... Certification required.  Apparently for the  FDA ingredient panel only: something like:    Cacao*, Cane sugar*,  Cocoa Butter*      *organic  is acceptable..... However,  it's not much of a marketing hook printed in 1/16" type on the back of bar and you can't mention 'contains organic ingredients' on the rest of the packaging.    

The cost of certification might be something to investigate, think you will find it may not be as expensive as you think, but does require good record keeping and annual inspection in most States.

perfectmiles
@perfectmiles
04/26/16 05:49:58PM
11 posts

Hello, hello @Mattworks -

I went through quite a bit of labeling designs and guidelines under the scrutiny of lawyers and I'd love to pass on just a few tid-bits for where we got caught up so you don't make the same mistakes.

I'm sure there are brands that violate these, but this is what our lawyer caught.

Be careful using the word "with" as in chocolate "with" almonds as this has a special 10% of DV meaning to the FDA and most inclusions don't have a DV level. You can use "and" instead.

In packages with multiple pieces the minimum serving size for chocolate is 32 g. This means if you have a 14 g piece, your serving size is 3 pieces. Only way around this is to package them for individual sale.

For calories- you must round to the nearest 10 calories for values over 50 calories.

Be very careful on any claims on packaging and also your certification strategy. I believe you can be over certified which throws up a lot of red tape and may not even matter to your customers.

If interested in having your packaging reviewed reach out to:

Evelyn Cadman
Principal Consultant
303-432-1605
www.BioTransApp.com
www.FDALabels.com

It's expensive but if you are doing large runs of packaging it's worth it.

Of course as Clay said, if you are under $100k in revenue you will be exempt/ overlooked for a lot of these regulations.

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