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ANALYSIS FOR COMMENT

Topic: Grapes – Labeling Requirements

Issue: The Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) has received numerous requests for information regarding the labeling of table grapes offered for sale in plastics bags. The bags may be “Zip-lock” or not, may be open or closed, and may or may not have some product labeling on the bag. Industry and regulatory officials have requested guidance concerning the packaging and labeling requirements as they apply to these products when offered for sale. A similar issue was raised regarding bunches of bananas wrapped in plastic bags and offered for sale.

Background: OWM staff reviewed the Uniform Weights and Measures Law, the Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation in Handbook 130, and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. An exemption to some labeling requirements was found in 21 CFR Part 101 that specifically addresses wrapped clusters of bananas. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act preempts State laws where State laws are not identical to the Act for the products covered by the Act. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was consulted to obtain their interpretation regarding this issue. The FDA exemption and interpretation are reported below.

Summary: The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act contains a specific exemption to some labeling requirements for wrapped clusters of bananas and allows the net weight to be determined at the time of sale (see wording below). FDA reported that the exemption probably was written specifically for wrapped clusters of bananas because most likely bananas were the only produce item using that method of packaging at the time the exemption was requested (around 1964). FDA indicated that the sale of table grapes in plastic is analogous to the sale of wrapped clusters of bananas; therefore, the exemption described in of 21 CFR Part 100 also applies to the table grapes.

Consequently, it is not necessary that the table grapes in plastic bags be marked with a net weight, unit price, and total price at the time the product is offered for sale. The FDA interpretation allows the determination of net weight at the point of sale. The customer must be provided with the net weight, unit price, and the total price at or prior to the time of sale.

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