Food labels have had a long and tumultuous history here in the US. For the first few decades of our nation’s history, food labels weren’t required at all. After a rash of food borne illnesses in the mid 1800’s, labels slowly began to appear as a means of safety.
In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln established the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a standard for handling and processing food. However, it wasn’t until 1966 that the USDA began to require that all products should provide a list of ingredients. In 1990 the FDA mandated that all food companies were required by law to include accurate, detailed nutritional fats on products. These facts are what we typically see today on the backs of our cereal boxes and milk jugs (calories, fats, sodium, etc).
What your food tells you depends a lot on where you get it.
Food labels have come a long way since the 1800’s. Here’s what your food needs to tell you today in order to be compliant with FDA regulations:
If you contract an illness or other ailment from improperly labeled or produced food, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. This relies heavily on your situation and the facts of the case.
Locally-made produce and products at farmers markets are not under the same labeling guidelines as major companies since their products are not intended to be sold to the passes.
Instead, it’s generally accepted that these homegrown farmers markets follow a buy-at-your-own-risk formula, knowing that ingredients and processes are not standardized. The most common kinds of foods that can spread bacteria and disease are:
Most of the times, these local items come from local farms, which may or may not carry product liability insurance.
Regulations on restaurants for nutritional disclosure depends mostly on how big that restaurant is. Chain restaurants (i.e. most fast food restaurants) are required by law to provide calorie information for all items on the menu either via the menu or online.
Small, locally owned eateries are not held to these same standards.
If you are a victim of food poisoning or exposure to other issues of product liability, it’s worth it to determine if the case you want to pursue is worth it financially (and time wise). For example, if some local milk made you a little queasy but didn’t cause any serious damage, it may be better to leave it. But if you buy massive amounts of food for a big gathering and everyone gets food poisoning, it may be worth pursuing.