Metric Labeling

The current regulations are based on the inch-pound system of measures (avoirdupois system) and also metric measures (International System of Units [SI]).

Selecting the Proper Unit. The net quantity of contents may be expressed as weight, a fluid or dry measure, or a numerical count. Units used in declaring the net quantity vary depending on the form of the food. If the food is sold in liquid form, a fluid measure must be used. If the food is solid, semisolid, viscous, or a mixture of solid and liquid, a weight measure must be used. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and other dry commodities may be labeled with a dry measure. If there is a firmly established consumer usage and trade practice for declaring the contents of a liquid product by weight—or solid, semisolid, or viscous product by fluid measure—it may be used. Similarly, if there is a firmly established consumer usage and trade practice of declaring net quantity by numerical count, linear measure, or area measure, it may be used and possibly augmented by a weight or fluid measure. It is never acceptable to use any adjective qualifying the unit (eg, jumbo quart, full gallon).

Using the Correct Term. When the net quantity is declared as a weight measure, the terms "net weight" and "net" are used. Net weight is used when the inch-pound declaration is first. If a fluid measure is used, then either net or net contents is used.

Converting to Metric. To assure uniformity and precision in net quantity declarations, the regulations provide conversion factors to use in declaring the inch-pound and metric amounts.

Largest Whole Unit. The net quantity of contents should be declared in the largest whole unit, with any remainder expressed as a decimal or a common fraction of the unit. Alternatively, the remainder may be expressed in terms of the next smaller whole unit and any decimal or common fraction of that unit. Common fractions are halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, or thirty-seconds. Common fractions must be reduced to the lowest (simplest) terms. Decimal fractions should be carried to no more than three places.

Dual Ounce-Pound Declaration. The current net quantity of contents regulations require a dual ounce-pound declaration on packages weighing between 1 and 4 lb or containing between 1 pt and 1 gal. This dual declaration requirement results in a statement of ounces followed by a parenthetical pound-ounce declaration (eg, 18 oz [1 lb 2 oz]) or a statement of fluid ounces followed by a parenthetical declaration in largest whole fluid unit with the remainder in fluid ounces (eg, 36 fl oz [1 qt 4 fl oz]). Under the metric labeling regulations, this dual ounce-pound declaration requirement is eliminated. Including a dual ounce-pound declaration would be optional; however, if used, it must appear on one line and may precede or follow the metric declaration.

Abbreviations. The regulations list the only abbreviations that may be used in the declaration of net quantity of contents (Table 2). Generally, periods and plural forms are optional.

Design Elements

The regulations specify a number of design requirements for the net quantity of contents declaration. It must appear as a distinct item in the lower portion of the PDP, be surrounded by white (ie, blank) space, and meet a minimum type-size requirement based on the area of the PDP.

Location. The net quantity of contents declaration must appear within the bottom 30% of the PDP. If the PDP is 5 square inches or less, any available space on the PDP may be used. The net quantity of Contents declaration must be placed in lines parallel to the base on which the package rests as it is displayed. It may appear on more than one line.

Copy-Free Area. The net quantity of contents declaration must be separated from other printed matter. Spacing requirements do not apply to pictorials or graphics, provided they do not render the declaration inconspicuous. The declaration may be placed closer to the extreme lower border than the space prescribed for below the statement.

Type Style. The net quantity of contents declaration must be in conspicuous type that is prominent and easily legible. The declaration must appear in distinct contrast (by typography, layout, color, embossing, or molding) to other matter on the package, unless it is blown, embossed, or molded on a glass or plastic surface, in which case the contrast is not mandatory.

Type Size. To ensure that all packages of the same size will have the same size net quantity of contents, the regulations define minimum type-size requirements based on the area of the PDP. To determine the minimum type size for the net quantity of contents, measure the area of the PDP (Table 3).

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