The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) published slack-fill guidance to help the regulated supplement industry inform consumers and comply with all relevant federal requirements.
This guidance was originally published in 2016 and was reorganized and edited for clarity in 2019, with one substantive revision in the discussion on “Label statements and fill lines” in section 2.2.2. In addition, more attention is provided to several somewhat obscure regulatory exemptions, as identified in section 188.8.131.52., and two appendices have been added to provide additional relevant information.
The difference between the capacity of a container and the volume of product inside is known as "slack-fill." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates how food (including dietary supplement) containers are filled to packaging that could mislead consumers about the quantity of a product they are purchasing.
AHPA's guidance provides best practices for industry to help companies ensure that packaging accurately informs consumers about the quantity of product in containers and comply with relevant federal regulations. The guidance provides an overview of slack-fill laws and regulations, a discussion of practical considerations and exemptions for packagers of food and dietary supplement products, and answers basic questions about compliance with federal slack-fill regulations.
Among other topics, the guidance explores:
- When slack-fill is "misleading?"
- How much empty space is too much?
- Use of transparent panels and windows
- Functional slack fill exemptions
- Unavoidable product settling during shipping and handling
"A number of factors, often outside a company's control, can cause a gap between a package's capacity and the actual amount of the product inside," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. "It is important for companies to understand these factors and what they can do to mitigate them so customers know how much product they are purchasing."