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Compliance FAQs: Packaging and Labeling in the US

What are the labeling requirements that must be followed to sell products in the United States?

There are many regulations, depending on the product, with which a product’s label or markings must be in compliance before being sold in the United States. Labeling requirements related to legal metrology (i.e., products and commodities sold in package form by weight, measure or count) must comply with The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) and Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR), NIST Handbook 130-Current Edition). In addition, all products imported into the U.S. must conform to Title 19, United States Code, Chapter 4, Section 1304 and 19 CFR 134, Country of Origin Marking regulations. Other product categories, such as electronics, food, medical devices, etc., are covered by regulations from the responsible agency. A product may have to be complaint with several labeling regulations from different agencies.

What is the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA)?

The FPLA  relates to the net quantity of contents information on packages, goods, or commodities that are sold on the basis of weight or measure (i.e., it does not apply to such products as electronic or industrial equipment that have contents sold by the quantity of their contents and appliances).

Products must be labeled per the Act with the following:

  • Declaration of identity
  • Declaration of responsibility (name and address of manufacturer, packer , or distributor
  • Declaration of net quantity, servings, or uses

Consumer commodity or commodity under the Act means any article, product, or commodity which is customarily produced or distributed for sale through retail sales agencies or instrumentalities for consumption by individuals, or use by individuals for purposes of personal care or in the performance of services ordinarily rendered within the household, and which usually is consumed or expended in the course of such consumption or use. 

See the Act for products not covered, such as food, meat, poultry, tobacco, drug, medical devices, or cosmetic, etc. However, other labeling regulations may apply.

Note: Products may be subject to other labeling or marking regulations.

Do I have to include metric units (SI) under FPLA?

Yes, packages subject to FPLA must bear metric units.

What is the Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR) and NIST Handbook 130?

The Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR) was first adopted during the 37th National Conference on Weights and Measures in 1952. UPLR contains in Uniform Laws and Regulations in the areas of Legal Metrology and Engine Fuel Quality, NIST Handbook 130, have been adopted into law in 45 of the 50 U.S. states. The purpose of these regulations is to provide accurate and adequate information as to the identity and quantity of contents of packages so that purchasers can make price and quantity comparisons.

The UPLR requires that consumer packaging bear a label specifying the following:

  • the identity of the commodity
  • the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • the net quantity of contents in terms of weight or mass measure, or numerical count in a uniform location upon the principal display panel.

Note: All 50 states have some type of packaging and labeling regulations in effect and all have separate requirements in their laws that require all packages to bear information regarding identity, responsibility, and quantity, so even if a product is exempt under the UPLR the requirements of the state law can still be applied.

Do I have to include  metric units (SI) under UPLR?

Yes.  Metric units must be applied to all packages of consumer products subject to the UPLR, except for non-consumer products, which may be labeled only in customary units or only in metric units.  The requirements of the UPLR are identical to FPLA for consumer products defined under UPLR and FPLA and all consumer products that do not fall under FPLA. But, the UPLR allows metric only labeling on consumer products not covered by FPLA and on non-consumer products. Only U.S. customary units are optional under this exemption. Also, it is important to note that while most food products must have metric units, meat, poultry, and catfish regulated by USDA do not have to have metric units. 

What country of origin markings are required for imported goods?

Title 19, United States Code, Chapter 4, Section 1304 and 19 CFR 134, Country of Origin Marking regulations require that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, and in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S., the English name of the country of origin of the article at the time of importation.

CBP has a number of Informed Compliance Publications (ICPs) in the "What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: ..." series. Where applicable specific marking requirements are included (e.g., Eyewear Frames and Eyewear).

For more information see Custom and Border Protection’s Terminology and Methods for Marking of Country of Origin on U.S. Imports.

Are there any other product markings required?

Several agencies regulate specific products for which there are labeling or marking requirements. In addition, there may be state specific requirements or multiple requirements. For example, if products are sold by weight, measure or count they are subject to state weights and measures control as well.

This list below shows some products that require labeling or marking and the agency that governs them. States may also have specific regulations for these products. This list is not all-inclusive.
 

Product

Governing Agency

All – product claims (marketing, environmental)

Federal Trade Commission

Automobile parts

Department of Transportation

Batteries containing cadmium and/or lead electrodes

Environmental Protection Agency

Carpet and Rugs (flammability)

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Certain appliances (covered under energy efficiency and EnergyGuide Standards)

Department of Energy/ Federal Trade Commission

Chemical substances and mixtures (besides food, drugs, cosmetics))

Environmental Protection Agency

Children’s Sleepwear

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Cosmetics

Food & Drug Administration

Food (except meat, poultry and processed eggs) and Food Contact

Food & Drug Administration

Food (meat, Poultry, and processed eggs)

United States Department of Agriculture

Hazardous household substances

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Jewelry

Federal Trade Commission

Mattresses

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Medical devices

Food & Drug Administration

Organic products, including fibers

United States Department of Agriculture

Pesticides

Environmental Protection Agency

Portable generators

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Products used in the workplace

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Radio frequency devices

Federal Trade Commission

Textiles, fur, wool, footwear

Federal Trade Commission

Tobacco, beer and distilled spirits

Department of Treasury

Toys, children’s products, juvenile products

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Walk-behind mowers

Consumer Product Safety Commission

 

For additional information, the CPSC’s Regulations, Mandatory Standards & Bans includes a large list of products within the CPSC’s jurisdiction and the applicable regulations and mandatory standards established by them, many which include labeling requirements.

Note: The information contained in this FAQ reflects only a portion of the requirements that may need to be met in order to sell products in the U.S. Other requirements may apply. 

 

 

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Created September 11, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019