July 2, 2008



Restaurant and Bakery Ingredient Labeling Laws


By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst


As a follow-up to an earlier report on ingredient labeling laws (2008-R-0334), you asked if there are different labeling requirements that apply to food sold to go in restaurants or bakeries.


The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 requires food labels to state the presence of eight major food allergens (P.L. 108-282). The requirement applies to raw agricultural commodities, spices, flavorings, colorings, and incidental additives. The allergens are: milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.


FALCPA only applies to food regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that it does not apply to food prepared in restaurants. The FDA advises consumers with allergies to always ask about both the ingredients and the preparation of food prepared in restaurants or anywhere other than in their homes.


FALCPA’s labeling requirements apply to all retail and food-service establishments that package, label, and offer food products for sale. This includes bakeries, food kiosks at the mall, and carry-out restaurants. But the requirements do not apply to food that is wrapped or placed in a container in response to a consumer’s order. In other words, a sandwich wrapped in response to a consumer’s specific order is exempt.