Writer: Kevin Robinson-Avila
ALBUQUERQUE - Food processors, distributors and inspectors can learn about federal food labeling laws in a hands-on workshop March 21-22 in Las Cruces.
New Mexico State University and the Federal Drug Administration are jointly sponsoring the workshop, which will help businesses comply with labeling regulations that often confuse food processors.
"Food labels are basically legal documents that allow consumers to make informed decisions, but even experienced processors frequently make mistakes because the regulations are so detailed," said Nancy Flores, a food technology specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "The laws mandate very specific things, such as label size, the font used to print the label and even its location on the package. This workshop will make the regulations more understandable and easier to comply with."
Given the huge number of inquiries by food processors and distributors, the FDA is offering food labeling workshops in select cities such as Dallas and Kansas City, but this is the only one scheduled for the Southwest, Flores said. For those who can't attend in Las Cruces, the workshop will be repeated Aug. 1-2 in Espaņola.
At the workshop, Flores will discuss labeling regulations for product ingredients and nutrients. Cecelia Garcia, food science director at Northern New Mexico Community College, will show how to design labels that comply with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Ann Bock, a human nutrition and food science professor at NMSU, will discuss regulations on health and nutrition claims and how to report allergen information on labels.
John B. Foret, former senior specialist with the FDA's Centers for Food Safety and Nutrition, will address special labeling issues such as including required product information on very small packages and using hang tags for bottles. David Arvelo, the FDA's Southwest regional small business representative, will show participants how to navigate the FDA Web site to find labeling policies and related information.
The workshop includes hands-on exercises to design labels for products in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first day and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. the second day. It will be held on campus in Gerald Thomas Hall, Room. 337. Registration is $99. Seating is limited to 80. Registration at the door will depend on space available.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Gloria Hernandez at (505) 646-2198 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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