A Food Labeling Guide: Chapter 4 - Ingredient Lists ΓΈ Calorie Counter
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A Food Labeling Guide: Chapter 4 - Ingredient Lists

<< Chapter 3: Net Quantity of Contents Statements | A Food Labeling Guide | Chapter 5.1: Nutrition Labeling >>

4.1. What is the ingredient list?
The ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance.

"Ingredients: Pinto Beans, Water, and Salt"

21 CFR 101.4(a)
4.2. What is meant by the requirement to list ingredients in descending order of predominance?
Descending order of predominance means that the ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight, that is, the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last (see illustration for question #3).

21 CFR 101.4(a)
4.3.Where is the ingredient list placed on the label?
The ingredient list is placed on the same label panel as the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor. This may be either the information panel or the principal display panel. It may be before or after the nutrition label and the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor.

21 CFR 101.4(a)
4.4. What type size is required for ingredient lists?
Use a type size that is at least 1/16 inch in height (lower case "o") and that is prominent, conspicuous, and easy to read. See the type size, prominence, and clarity requirements for information panel labeling discussed in the first chapter of this booklet.

21 CFR 101.2(c)
4.5. Should water be listed as an ingredient?
Water added in making a food is considered to be an ingredient. The added water must be identified in the list of ingredients and listed in its descending order of predominance by weight.

"INGREDIENTS: Water, Navy Beans, and Salt"

21 CFR 101.4(a)
4.6. Should the common or usual name always be used for ingredients?
Always list the common or usual name for ingredients unless there is a regulation that provides for a different term. For instance, use the term "sugar" instead of the scientific name "sucrose".

"INGREDIENTS: Apples, Sugar, Water, and Spices"

21 CFR 101.4(a)
4.7. Is it necessary to declare trace ingredients?
It depends on whether the trace ingredient is present in a significant amount and has a function in the finished food. If a substance is an incidental additive and has no function or technical effect in the finished product, then it need not be declared on the label. An incidental additive is usually present because it is an ingredient of another ingredient. Sulfites are considered to be incidental only if present at less than 10 ppm.

21 CFR 101.100(a)(3)
4.8. What foods may list alternative fat and oil ingredients?
Listing alternative fat and oil ingredients ("and/or" labeling) is permitted only in the case of foods that contain relatively small quantities of added fat or oil ingredients (foods in which added fats or oils are not the predominant ingredient) and only if the manufacturer is unable to predict which fat or oil ingredient will be used.

"INGREDIENTS: . . . Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following: Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, or Safflower Oil) . . . ."

21 CFR 101.4(b)(14)
4.9. What ingredient listing is necessary for chemical preservatives?
When an approved chemical preservative is added to a food, the ingredient list must include both the common or usual name of the preservative and the function of the preservative by including terms, such as "preservative," "to retard spoilage," "a mold inhibitor," "to help protect flavor," or "to promote color retention."

"INGREDIENTS: Dried Bananas, Sugar, Salt, and Ascorbic Acid to Promote Color Retention"

21 CFR 101.22(j)
4.10. How are spices, natural flavors or artificial flavors declared in ingredient lists?
These may be declared in ingredient lists by using either specific common or usual names or by using the declarations "spices," "flavor" or "natural flavor," or "artificial flavor."

"INGREDIENTS: Apple Slices, Water, Cane Syrup, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Spices, Salt, Natural Flavor and Artificial Flavor"

21 CFR 101.22(h)(1)
4.11. What listing is used for a spice that is also a coloring?
Spices, such as paprika, turmeric, saffron and others that are also colorings must be declared either by the term "spice and coloring" or by the actual (common or usual) names, such as "paprika."

21 CFR 101.22(a)(2)
4.12. What ingredient listing is used for vegetable powder?
Vegetable powders must be declared by common or usual name, such as "celery powder."

21 CFR 101.22(h)(3)
4.13. What ingredient listing is used for artificial colors?
It depends on whether the artificial color is a certified color:

Certified colors:List by specific or abbreviated name such as "FD&C Red No. 40" or "Red 40."
Non-certified colors:List as "artificial color," "artificial coloring," or by their specific common or usual names such as "caramel coloring" and "beet juice."

21 CFR 101.22(k)(1) and (2), 21 CFR 74.705(d)(2)
<< Chapter 3: Net Quantity of Contents Statements | A Food Labeling Guide | Chapter 5.1: Nutrition Labeling >>

Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
A Food Labeling Guide, September 1994 (Editorial revisions June, 1999)

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