Food Safety & Labeling
Health & Nutrient Claims
Federal law governs the use of health claims on food labels. Health claims include statements like “diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.” The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must normally approve such claims in advance, based on an extensive review of the scientific literature. A person wishing to make such a claim may petition the FDA and provide supporting documentation. FDA may approve if there is significant scientific agreement that the health claim is well established. For more information, see the FDA website.
Nutrient Content Claims
Federal law also governs the use of nutrient content claims on food labels. These claims describe the level of a nutrient or dietary substance in the food product, using terms such
as “good source,” “high,” “low” or “free.” A food label may not ordinarily make a nutrient content claim unless FDA has specified an established daily value for that nutrient or dietary substance. This helps ensure that descriptive terms, such as “high” or “low,” are used consistently for all types of food products and are thus meaningful to consumers. For more information, see the FDA website.
Misbranding and Deceptive Advertising
Wisconsin law prohibits misbranding and deceptive advertising of food, including unsubstantiated health or nutrient claims. Label claims that violate federal law will likely violate Wisconsin law as well. Advertising and label claims must be truthful, and not misleading. Sellers must have substantiation for advertising and labeling claims before the claims are made. The type and amount of substantiation may vary, depending on the nature of the claim. But health claims must generally be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.