Learn How to Read Food Labels

Food labels are supposed to inform, protect, and empower consumers. Even though the law prohibits misleading food labels, consumers still find some labels to be deceptive. By better understanding how to read food labels, you can take charge of your food purchasing decisions.

Explore Labels

What is a Food label?

Under the law, a food label is more than just the food packaging attached to a product. Learn how labels are regulated and the roles of the FDA and USDA.

Food Labels Basics

Explore Food Labels and Food Groups

From "organic" to "grass fed" to various health claims, we break down the common terms you’ll find when reading food labels.

Understanding Food Labels

What information is required on food labels? Who regulates food labels? And why are food labels important? Although most of us encounter food packaging on a daily basis, many of us struggle to sort through the facts behind the myriad stamps, certifications, and health claims on food labels. Created by the research team at Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, this website aims to break down the law of food labels and empower consumers to take charge of their food purchasing decisions.

Food labeling laws are also changing quickly. New food labels for bioengineered foods will be required starting in 2022. A new industry around plant-based proteins and cultured meats is booming, raising questions around the legal definitions of milk and meat. Meanwhile, the legal landscape surrounding labels for food like “organic,” “grass fed,” “natural,” and various animal welfare certifications continues to evolve.

Visit our Issue Briefs page to stay up-to-date on these recent developments and delve more deeply into hot topics in food labeling law and policy.

Start Reading Food Labels