Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

General Background

Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Resource materials
Who runs the Program?

The CN Labeling Program is run by FNS directly with commercial food processing firms and in cooperation with the following agencies in USDA or the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC):

  • Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
  • Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
How does the Program work?

The Program requires an evaluation of a product's formulation by FNS to determine its contribution toward meal patterns requirements. It allows manufacturers to state this contribution on their labels. The program provides a warranty against audit claims for purchasers of CN labeled products.

What products can be CN-labeled?

Main dish products which contribute to the meat/meat alternate component of the meal pattern requirements. Examples of these products include but are not limited to beef patties, cheese or meat pizzas, meat or cheese and bean burritos, egg rolls, and breaded fish portions.

To carry CN labels, eligible products must
Are manufacturers required to CN-label products?

There is no federal requirement that anyone make or purchase CN labeled products. Purchasing decisions are left to the local level. If a CN labeled product is desired, this must be clearly stated in purchasing specifications.

Summary of CN Labeling Program

Appendix C of the Food Buying Guide

Page updated: April 27, 2023