Can You Sell Food Without a Nutrition Facts Label?

Food labeling regulations in the U.S. require that packaged food carry a minimum amount of information known as “Nutrition Facts”. This information is supposed to help consumers make informed decisions about what and how much they eat by providing them with simple, easy-to-understand nutrition facts about packaged foods. But do you know what? Nearly every packaged food available today has clever methods to get around having to label it or list its nutrition facts. 

This article will answer some of your most pressing questions regarding whether or not it’s possible to sell food without listing any nutrition facts on the package, and if so, at what cost?

What Does Food Labeling Mean?

Nutrition labeling is the process by which food producers, manufacturers, and retailers determine the amount and type of nutrients in foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the amount and types of nutrients that must be listed on food labels. When it comes to the number of vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates, manufacturers can’t simply engage in complete misleading. They are required to follow an ingredient list format. FDA regulations require that every food label include the following information based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

Is It Illegal to Sell Food Without Nutrition Facts?

No, it is not illegal to sell food without nutrition facts. However, selling food without listing any nutrition facts at all may lead to legal ramifications. Since many states require manufacturers to list nutritional information on packaged foods, it is actually against the law to sell any food product that does not have nutritional information.

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Is It Possible to Sell Food Without Nutrition Facts?

Yes, it is possible to sell packaged food without nutrition facts. To do so, you would have to do one of the following: 

  • Buy food items with no nutritional facts (Make your food items without listing any nutrition facts
  • Sell food items that were never packaged 
  • Blend or mix ingredients that were never packaged 
  • Use food products that were never intended to be consumed 

Or Your food product should fit within one of the following criteria:

  • Raw fruits or vegetables
  •  Fish 
  • Packed single-ingredient FDA-regulated animal food products like turkey, beef, eggs, pork, etc.
  •  Foods with only trivial quantities of nutrients require declaration on the nutrition label like coffee, food coloring, spices, tea, etc.

There aren’t many options when it comes to selling food items that do not have any nutritional facts. Because many states require manufacturers to list nutritional information on packaged foods, it is actually against the law to sell any food product that does not have nutritional information.

The Cost of Listing Nothing But No-Nutrition-Facts Food

The cost of listing nothing but no-nutrition-facts food for sale will depend on where you do business and how much effort you are willing to put into it. If you have a small family-owned convenience store that only sells non-labeled foods, then the cost of selling no-nutrition-facts food may be fairly minimal. If you decide to start selling no-nutrition-facts food, you will have to purchase the ingredients and create them, one by one. You will also have to buy the necessary equipment to package and store the food.

How to List No-Nutrition-Facts Food for Sale

There are two main ways to sell non-labeled foods.

  1. Make your non-labeled foods.
  2. Buy non-labeled foods and label them yourself.

The first option would be to make your non-labeled foods. You can do this by buying ingredients, combining them into a food product, and then packaging and selling that product. The second option would be to buy non-labeled foods and label them yourself. You can do this by buying ingredients that have no nutritional facts and then labeling the products yourself.

Are Restaurants Required to Show Nutritional Information?

Yes, certain restaurants are required to provide nutritional information. In 2016, the FDA implemented guidelines mandating that chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations must display calorie information on menus and menu boards for standard menu items. 

Additionally, these establishments must provide written nutrition information for standard menu items upon request. The aim of these guidelines is to empower consumers with more information to make informed and healthier choices about the food they eat away from home. This transparency in nutritional information aligns with the broader movement towards promoting public health and combating diet-related diseases.

Which Restaurants are Affected?

A recent legislation by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all restaurant chains with 20 or more locations are required to furnish a calorie count for each of their food items. These establishments are also required to provide calorie information clearly on menus and menu boards for all standard menu items. This initiative aims to promote transparency and assist customers in making informed dietary choices. The rules are applicable across various settings, including:

  • Sit-down restaurants
  • Fast-food establishments
  • Bakeries
  • Coffee shops
  • Certain movie theaters

Additionally, these guidelines extend to vending machine operators who manage 20 or more machines. The aim is to create a uniform standard for nutritional information, making it easier for customers to understand the nutritional content of the food they consume, regardless of where they are dining.

What Information Must Be Provided?

Restaurants and similar retail food establishments under the FDA’s guidelines are required to provide specific nutritional information to aid consumers in making healthier choices. As mentioned, the calorie content of standard menu items must be clearly displayed on menus and menu boards, including menu boards in drive-through locations.

In addition to providing calorie counts, these restaurants are compelled to have comprehensive nutritional data readily available on-site for customers who request it. This includes specifics on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein content, ensuring a thorough understanding of the food’s nutritional makeup.

To guide consumers, two essential statements must also be displayed. One statement must indicate that the detailed written nutrition information is available upon request, and the other should provide general advice on daily calorie intake, noting that “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

The aim is to provide comprehensive nutritional information at the point of purchase, helping consumers make informed decisions about their food intake.

Exceptions and Special Cases

While the FDA’s nutrition labeling guidelines are comprehensive, there are exceptions and special cases to consider. Daily specials, temporary menu items (available for less than 60 days per calendar year), and custom orders are exempt from the calorie declaration requirements. Additionally, condiments and other items placed on the table or counter for general use are not required to have their calorie content displayed. This flexibility acknowledges the practical challenges of providing calorie information for items that are not regular or permanent fixtures on the menu, ensuring that establishments can maintain compliance without undue burden.

Benefits and Importance of Compliance

Complying with the FDA’s nutritional labeling requirements is not just a legal obligation; it also plays a crucial role in building trust and transparency with customers. Here’s why it’s beneficial and important:

  • Enhanced Customer Trust: Providing clear and accurate nutritional information demonstrates your commitment to transparency, helping to build trust with your customers. They are more likely to have confidence in your brand, knowing that you are upfront about what goes into your food products.
  • Informed Decision-Making: When customers have access to nutritional information, they can make more informed choices about their food based on their dietary needs and preferences. This not only contributes to customer satisfaction but also promotes healthier eating habits.
  • Competitive Advantage: In today’s health-conscious world, being transparent about your food products can give you a competitive edge. Customers are increasingly looking for healthier options, and providing nutritional information can attract this demographic to your brand.
  • Positive Brand Image: Compliance with FDA regulations enhances your brand’s image, showcasing your commitment to quality and customer well-being. This can lead to positive word-of-mouth and increased customer loyalty.
  • Avoidance of Legal Repercussions: By adhering to the FDA’s nutritional labeling requirements, you avoid potential legal issues and fines that can arise from non-compliance. This not only saves you money in the long run but also protects your brand’s reputation.
  • Streamlined Operations: Implementing a system to provide accurate nutritional information can help streamline your operations, ensuring consistency across all your products and locations.

In summary, complying with nutritional labeling requirements is a win-win for both your business and your customers. It enhances trust, promotes informed choices, and contributes to a positive brand image, all while ensuring legal compliance and protecting your business from potential repercussions.

Wrapping Up: Is Selling Food Without Any Nutrition Facts Legal?

Yes, it is legal to sell food without any nutrition facts. There are many advantages to this method of selling food. First of all, you don’t have to pay taxes on your sales, so you get to save a lot of money on taxes if you are selling non-labeled foods. All of the ingredients used in non-labeled foods are natural and non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about using harmful chemicals and additives. So, if you want to sell food without any nutrition facts and don’t mind breaking the law, then you can do so without any problems whatsoever. Due to the fact that many states require manufacturers to list nutritional information on packaged foods, it is actually against the law to sell any food product that does not have nutritional information.