NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association here has been receiving a large number of inquiries about whether raw fruits and vegetables must be labeled under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which goes into effect May 8.
re not mandatory at this time on individual raw produce items. Rather, they are voluntary, and will remain so provided that 60% of food retailers post on a sign nutrition information on their top-40 produce items.
This fall, supermarkets will be visited by government officials to see if, based on random visits, produce departments are up to that 60% compliance, said Kathy Means, spokeswoman for PMA. "Every store should be complying," she said.
Commodity items packed in bags, such as apples, celery or carrots, do not have to have labels on the package. However, PMA recommends that if a retailer choose to label the packages, that the labels conform with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's label format for packaged grocery products. If a health claim is made about a product, such as a statement that it is low in fat, nutrition information would have to be available at point of purchase. However, if the product is one of the top-40 selling raw fruits and vegetables, the sign containing information about them would be sufficient, PMA said. Retailers, and not grower-shippers, are responsible for having the nutrition information in place.
Raw value-added products, such as lettuce mixes, do not have to be labeled unless a nonproduce product, such as a packet of salad dressing, is in the package. For further information on produce labeling, contact PMA's Retail division or Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka at 302-739-7100.