Regulations that Govern Food Product Labelling in the Philippines
The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Administrative Order No. 2014-0030, or otherwise known as the Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Labeling of Prepackaged Food Products (FDA Labeling Regulations). It covers the labeling of all prepackaged food products, including food supplements, whether locally manufactured, or imported into the Philippines.
The FDA Labeling Regulations define food as any processed substance, which is intended for human consumption, and includes drinks for human beings, beverages, chewing gum and any substance which have been used as an ingredient in the manufacture, preparation or treatment of food.
What is a product label or labeling?
Product Labeling is important as it provides necessary information about the food product. The product label is considered to be the most readily available material to inform the consumer about the product contents, shelf life and traceability, and the like. Hence, the FDA strictly regulates the contents of the label, not only to comply with the requirements under the law and other FDA regulations, but also to ensure that the consuming public is sufficiently apprised of the nature of a product before it is purchased or consumed.
The FDA Labelling Regulations define a product label as a means a displaying written, printed or graphic matter upon the immediate container of any article.
For purposes of complying with legal requirements, the FDA Labelling Regulations also require that the same information found in the product label must also be found in the outer packaging of the product.
Hence, any required word, statement, or other information that the FDA mandates to appear on the label shall not be considered to be complied with unless such word, statement or information also appears on the outside container or wrapper of the retail package of such article, or is easily legible through the outside container or wrapper.
What language should be used in labeling the food product?
The FDA Regulations require that all information on a food product label should be either in English or Filipino or a combination thereof. For food products intended for export, the language acceptable to the importing country should be used.
In the case of imported food products, labels where in the information are declared in a foreign language must include the corresponding English translation. In cases of exhaustion of existing labels permitted by the FDA, the importer may use a provisionary sticker label for the English or Filipino translation, but the use of the sticker should not exceed six (6) months.
All information contained in the food product label should be accurate, legible and must be contained in a single sticker. The sticker must be durable, i.e. cannot be easily removed from the label or packaging.
Where shall the label of food products be contained?
Food packages shall be labeled with the required information, which should be found in the principal display or information panel. The principal display or information panel is the front portion of the food product or packing, which is first seen when the food product is viewed by a consumer.
Every word, figure or statement required to be placed on the label or labeling should be printed legibly, with such conspicuousness and in such terms as to render it likely to be understood under customary condition of purchase and use.
Where the label of a food package is so small that it prevents the use of letters of the prescribed size or where it concerns secondary or optional information, the FDA allows the use of letters of proportionately reduced size. However, the mandatory information that the FDA requires must still be visible and legibly shown, and that the designated label space, regardless of its size, must always be proportional to the size of the package.
For other small packages that will not be able to accommodate label information, only the brand name and product name may be indicated. However, the FDA does not allow the separate or retail sale of these types of food products.
What should be contained in the label of food products?
The FDA Labelling Regulations require the following minimum mandatory information to be present in the labels of all prepackaged food, also known as the Mandatory Label Information:
- Product Name/ Name of the Food
- Use of Brand Name and/or Trademark
- Complete List of Ingredients
- Net Contents and Drained Weight
- Name and Address of Manufacturer, Repacker, Packer, Importer, Trader and Distributor
- Lot Identification
- Storage Condition
- Expiry or Expiration Date/ Use-by-date/ Consume Before Date (Recommended last consumption date)
- Food Allergen Information
- Direction/ Instruction(s) for Use shall also be printed, where applicable or as necessary to ensure correct utilization of the food
- Nutrition Facts/ Nutrition Information/ Nutritive Value
All Claims on the label and labeling materials regarding nutrition and health should follow the guidelines provided by the FDA. Therapeutic claims, i.e., medical or curative claims are not permissible, as the product will inevitably be classified, not as food product, but as a drug, falling under a different regulatory scheme of the FDA.
In Alcoholic Beverages, the Alcohol content in terms of percentage (%) volume or proof units should be indicated on the label of alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, additional information, when mandated in a Food Standard or any other FDA regulation or which is necessary to assure safety of consumption of the food product, should also be indicated on the label. Other declarations on the label should be sufficiently substantiated such as Halal, Kosher, organic, etc.
What are the particular rules of the FDA for displaying the name and address of the Manufacturer, Repacker, Packer, Importer, Trader and Distributor?
One of the information that must be indicated in the label of every food product is the name and address of the manufacturer, repacker, packer, importer, trader or distributor of the food.
It is required that the name and address of the manufacturer, repacker, packer, importer, trader or distributor of the food product be declared on the label of locally manufactured products. If a manufacturer has plant in many cities and/or towns, the corporate head office address would suffice, provided that every food package bears a code or mark to identify the processing plant where it was produced.
If the prepackaged food is not manufactured by the person or company whose name appears on the label, the name must be qualified by “Manufactured for” or “Packed for” or other similar expression. For imported products, the complete name and address of importer and the country of origin should be declared.
In the case of products carrying foreign brands, or manufactured under license by a foreign company, the name and address of the foreign company should be displayed on the label, in letters of type and size not bigger than those used for the local company.
When a food undergoes processing in a second country which changes its nature, the second country in which the processing is performed should be indicated as the country of origin for the purposes of labeling.
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