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Food Labeling Basics

The Government of Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have each established food labeling requirements for food products. By law, most packaged food products must comply with their nation's food labeling requirements such as the inclusion of a Nutrition Facts table and Percent Daily Value.

Why Food Labeling Standards Exist

Food labeling standards exist to help consumers learn more about the nutritional value of packaged food products. For example, the Nutrition Facts label shows nutritional values (calories and nutrients) for the product per serving. This allows consumers to compare two similar items as well as determine if the product contains too much, or too little, of a given nutrient such as fat, calcium, carbohydrate, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, or fiber.

What are the Food Labeling Requirements?

The main food labeling requirements cover:

•             Nutrition Facts - Nutrition Facts labels are designed for consistency from one food product to another. These black and white printed labels provide information on: serving size, calories, Percent Daily Value, and mandatory nutrients.

•             Percent Daily Value - This appears on the Nutrition Facts label for various nutrients such as fat, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. Percent Daily Value is intended to help consumers choose food products that contain more of the nutrients they want and less of the nutrients they don't want. 

•             Nutrition Claims - Food labeling rules also cover claims such as "fat free," "organic," and "reduced risk of heart disease." These rules are intended to minimize confusion and make sure claims are not misleading.

•             Ingredient Lists - Packaged food products must also include ingredient labels with the ingredients listed in order from the most to the least.

•             Other Food Labeling Requirements - Food labels must also contain other useful information such as a statement of identity, net quantity statement, and name and address of the manufacturer, distributor, or packer. To further complicate matters, different agencies cover food labeling for meat, eggs, and poultry. Specific food labeling requirements are available from the Government of Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Who Needs to Comply with Food Labeling Requirements

In general, any manufacturer, distributor, or packer of packaged food products in Canada or the United States will need to comply with the appropriate country's food labeling requirements. If you produce or distribute goods in other countries, those countries will likely have food labeling requirements of their own. Because food labeling requirements vary from one country to the next, you may need to print country-specific food labels for your packaged food products. In addition, both the United States and Canada are considering updating their food labeling requirements.

Printing Your Own Food Labels

Any change in your food product's quantity, ingredient list, or even marketing typically requires changing the label to ensure accuracy and food label compliance. The ability to design and print your own food labels provides you with the ultimate in flexibility over your product labels. Because food products contain both marketing messages and mandated nutrition labels, most food products have two labels: "Prime" labels in full color to make a marketing impact and "Secondary" labels in black and white for Nutrition Facts and food labeling compliance.

What You Need to Print Your Own Food Labels

If you will be printing Prime labels, you will need a high resolution, full color label printer capable of printing photo quality product labels on demand. These color label printers allow you to produce professional, eye-catching food labels. You will also need a supply of blank label stock to print both your prime and secondary food labels on. To help you get started, we recommend the following food label printers and food labeling supplies:

Food Label Printers Using Dye-based Inkjet Technology for Vibrant Colors and Photographic Quality Labels

  • Primera LX400 and LX900 (4800 dpi)
  • Afinia L801 (1600 dpi)
  • VIPColor VP485 (1200 dpi)

Compare Primera, Afinia and VIPColor dye-based inkjet technology printers

Food Label Printers Using Pigment-based Inkjet Technology for Durable Industrial Labels

  • Epson TM-C3400, TM-C3500, and GP-C831 (720 dpi)
  • Epson TM-C7500 (1200 dpi, high speed printer)

Compare Epson printers using pigment ink

Food Label Printers (Laser)

  • Primera CX1000 and CX1200 (2400 dpi printing @ 16.25 feet/minute)
  • Afinia R635 (1200 dpi printing @ 30 feet/minute)
  • iSys Edge 850 and Apex 1290 (12.9 print width – 1200 dpi printing @ 30 feet/min)

Compare laser food label printers

Blank Food Labels

We carry a huge selection of blank media for all of your food labeling needs. Whether you need inexpensive paper labels for Nutrition Facts or a food grade label that repels oil and water, we can help. We can also make custom labels upon request.

Argon Technology: Your Food Labeling Resource

In short, we carry everything you need to print your own food labels including full color, high resolution food label printers, ink and toner supplies, and blank food label stock. Contact us today to learn more.