Misbranding is one of the major reasons that imported food is refused admission into the United States.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food safety. Imported foods must meet the same laws and regulations as food produced in the United States. Here are some of the reasons that the agency considers food to be misbranded:

Courtesy of www.fda.gov

Courtesy of www.fda.gov

It contains false or misleading labeling. How much juice does that carton reading “100% juice” actually have?

It is an imitation of another food, unless this is prominently stated on its label. Extract produced with synthetic vanillin, for example, is not the same as the more expensive extract produced from vanilla beans and needs to carry a label reading” Imitation Vanilla”.

Its container is either made, formed, or filled in order to be misleading. The label says 16 ozs (or 450 grams) but contains only 15 ozs (or 440 grams).

It is packaged but not labeled. Packaged foods must contain a label showing: 1) the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; and (2) an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count (unless it meets exemptions for small packages).

It contains a label that is illegible or hard to read. Required information on labels must be in English and displayed prominently, clearly and legibly so that the average consumer can quickly read and understand its contents.

Information on the label is inconsistent with the regulations. Specific labeling requirements exist for some products. For example, for beverages that contain fruit or vegetable juice the label must prominently state the total percentage of the juice in the beverage.

Failure to label allergens or a major health threat: Labels on relevant food products must use the word “Contains”, followed by the name of the food source from which a food allergen is derived and printed immediately after or adjacent to the list of ingredients and in a type size no smaller than the type size used in the list of ingredients. Foods that the agency has determined present a major health threat to the US population need to be marked as such, but will of course not be admitted.

Failure to provide nutrition information: Products intended for human consumption must carry a label with nutrition information, unless they qualify for an exemption.

The FDA has recently announced pending changes to its nutrition labeling requirements, which we will visit in a future blog.

Misbranded foods are refused entry into the United States. Contact us for help with ensuring that your products are not stopped at the US border.

DevelopTradeLaw, LLC provides business-oriented advice to the legal challenges that face companies doing business internationally. Contact us for more information or advice on the topic of this article.