Food and beverage labeling is guided by many different systems of rules and regulations, and failure to adhere to any of them could be disastrous for companies. Recent controversies have seen organizations battling lawsuits or challenges from other organizations, all based on the words chosen for their product labels. As a result, focusing on what you say on your packaging could end up being hugely relevant.
The fight over the word "milk"
When you think of complicated and controversial words to print on food and beverage labels, what comes to mind? "Natural" and "healthy" are strong contenders, as the Food and Drug Administration has attempted to clarify the meanings of these terms in recent years. But what about "milk?" As The New York Times recently and extensively reported, this four-letter word has become a bone of contention between dairy producers and beverage companies that make other kinds of milk, such as soy or almond milk.
Is a beverage milk if it's non-dairy in nature? According to the news provider, dairy farmers and their allies in Congress believe not. They're eager for makers of milk substitutes made from plant products to give up on the word milk, and they want the FDA to take action. In the FDA regulations regarding milk, the definition involves "lacteal secretion" from cows.
The New York Times clarified that thus far, legal decisions have favored the plant-based milk producers. A class-action suit was dismissed in 2013, and a 2015 case was dismissed because the existence of nutritional facts labels negates arguments about consumers making health-related assumptions based on what products are called.
"Evaporated cane juice" draws suit
Milk is far from the only term that has brought trouble to a company. As Law360 recently reported, a class-action suit against Odwalla for use of the phrase "evaporated cane juice" is moving forward. In August of last year, Food Navigator delved into the details of the case, which has been dragging on since 2013. As of May 2016, there is a finalized FDA ruling on the matter. As the rule now stands, the phrase "evaporated cane juice" should be replaced with its simpler yet somewhat less nutritionally appealing equivalent: "sugar."
Stay on top of labeling
When it comes to what you can and should print on your product labels, there are a plethora of rules to follow, and these restrictions change over time. With penalties and suits the possible result of getting these practices wrong, it's good to take your product labeling into your own hands. A label printer such as the Afinia L801 can aid you in this effort – check it out on our U.S. site here, or our Canadian site here.