Standards of Identity for Foods

In the United States, standards of identity establish a common name and set of content requirements for a food product.

They refer to requirements that define the composition of food, prescribing both mandatory and optional ingredients in a product, and may specify the amount of each ingredient that the food must contain or the relative proportion of each ingredient.

They may also prescribe a specific method of production.

If the appropriate term is not used or if the content requirement is not met, the food is considered misbranded and in violation of U.S. food safety law.

But standards of identity do not address issues of quality, unintentional adulteration or dietary requirements.

Standards of identity are established by regulations that determine what a food product must contain in order to be marketed under a particular name.

Standards of Identity

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have authority to establish federal requirements that food entering interstate commerce must meet.

In particular, FDA oversees about 300 standards of identity in 20 categories of food products (21 C.F.R. Parts 130-169).

USDA oversees standards applicable to meat and poultry products (9 C.F.R. Parts 319 and 381).

Finally, TTB oversees standards for wines, spirits and malt beverages (27 C.F.R. Parts 4, 5 and 7).


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