What Information on a Food Label Is Mandatory?

by Curtis Walcker

A woman reading a food label in a grocery store aisle.

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Food labels are important for identifying what a food is, what is contained in it and how it fits into the diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ensures that foods subject to requiring food labels are labeled correctly. There are five mandatory components for food labels.

Statement of Identity

Food labels must identify a food by its common name when available. If there is not one available, then a description may be used that is appropriate and not misleading.

Net Contents of the Package

Food labels must define the net quantity of a food in a package in both metric and U.S. Customary System. This net quantity would not include packaging materials or other non-food items.

Contact Information

The name and contact information for the manufacturer, packer or distributor must be present on food labels. This allows consumers to be able to contact someone with their questions or comments regarding the food.

List of Ingredients

Ingredients on food labels must be listed by their common names and in descending order by weight. Under the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act of 2004, foods containing any of the eight major food allergens must make their presence clearly known.

Nutritional Information

Food nutrition information is contained within the Nutrition Facts panel on a food label. It identifies items such as serving size, number of servings per container, amounts of nutrients found in significant quantities and percentages of the Daily Values for nutrients based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.


  • Insel P, Turner RE, Ross D. Discovering Nutrition. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc., 2003.

Photo Credits

  • diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Curtis Walcker has been a nutrition researcher and writer since 2006. He has worked in the dietary supplement industry for more than 10 years. He currently is a research scientist for a major manufacturer. He holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition as well as degrees in health science and biology.