I often get hired to help our clients decide what should and should not be included on their product labels. What facts about the product much be disclosed? What should they warn and/or instruct about? What can they legitimately claim the product can and cannot do? The problem is that once we finish this exercise and changes are made to the product label, those changes do not always find their way onto the client's website. Despite my advice, for some reason, many companies seem to feel that website statements are merely “marketing” and are not subject to the same scrutiny by government agencies as product labeling. A Texas food firm recently learned how wrong that thinking is.
FDA inspected a food firm in Tyler, Texas in April of last year. As the linked article indicates, the inspection uncovered a lot of issues. But most notably – to me at least – were the ones focused on the company's website. FDA reviewed the firm's website and internet address, including the hyperlinks and internet tags, as part of its inspection. Statements made therein were among the bases upon which the agency found violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practices, the rules governing Hazard Analysis, and regulations for Risk-Based Preventative Controls for Human Food.
The takeaway from this is obvious. What you say about your product on your website matters. It's not “just marketing” and therefore insulated from regulatory scrutiny. Make sure you apply the same level of care and attention to your internet statements that you do to your product labeling.