U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. For Industry
  3. Import Program
  4. Product Code Builder

PCB Tutorial

Lesson 4 — Coding Food, Food-Related, Cosmetic and Vitamin Products

Food and Food-related products are the most frequently declared goods. This Lesson describes the products under Industry Codes 02-50.Click on the drop-down menu to see a list of these industries.

02Whole Grains, Milled Grain Products, and Starch
03Bakery Products, Doughs, Bakery Mixes, and Icings
04Macaroni and Noodle Products
05Cereal Preparations, Breakfast Foods
07Snack Food Items (Flour, Meal, or Vegetable Base)
09Milk, Butter, and Dried Milk Products
12Cheese and Cheese Products
13Ice Cream and Related Products
14Filled Milk and Imitation Milk Products
15Egg and Egg Products
16Fishery/Seafood Products
17Meat, Meat Products, and Poultry
18Vegetable Protein Products (Simulated Meats)
20 – 22Fruit and Fruit Products
23Nuts and Edible Seeds
24 – 25Vegetables and Vegetable Products
26Vegetable Oils (Includes Olive Oil)
27Dressings and Condiments
28Spices, Flavors, and Salts
29Soft Drinks and Waters
30Beverage Bases
31Coffee and Tea
32Alcoholic Beverages
33Candy without Chocolate, Candy Specialties, and Chewing Gum
34Chocolate and Cocoa Products
35Gelatin, Rennet, Pudding Mixes, and Pie Fillings
36Food Sweeteners (Nutritive)
37Multiple Food Dinners, Gravies, Sauces, and Specialties (Total Diet)
39Prepared Salad
40Baby (Infant and Junior) Food Products
41Dietary Conventional Foods and Meal Replacements
42Edible Insects and Insect-Derived Foods
45 – 46Food Additives — for Human Use
50Color Additives for Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics

When determining product codes for food and food-related products, start with the Industry Code, move to the Class and then select the Product. For the most part, if you have basic information from the manufacturer about the product you are coding, you should be able to find the correct entries for these fields using the Product Code Builder application.

Several large food-related industries are assigned more than one industry code. These are Fruit and Fruit Products, Vegetables and Vegetable Products, and Food Additives. The easiest way to code products in multiple industry codes is by name search. Enter a word related to the product and review the list that the application returns. If you do select an industry code first, be sure to select all the codes assigned to the product group. For example, Fruit and Fruit Products are assigned Industry Codes 20, 21 and 22. Select all three codes to search for all Fruit and Fruit-related products.


There are several terms you should be familiar with as you learn about product codes for Food and Food-related products.

Color Additive: A dye, pigment, or other substance, whether synthetic or derived from a vegetable, mineral, or other source, which imparts a color when added or applied to a food, drug, cosmetic, or the human body.

Food: Articles used for food or drink for humans or other animals, chewing gum, and articles used as a component of any such article.

Food Additive: Articles which may by their intended uses become components of food, either directly or indirectly, or which may otherwise affect the characteristics of the food. You need to know the function of the food additive to determine its Class Code. Check the information provided by the manufacturer to determine the function.

The Food and Food-Related Classes

The class code designates the food group or use of the product. As you use the Product Code Builder application, you will become familiar with the wide variety of product Classes assigned to the Food and Food-related industries. There are numerous Class codes associated with the Food and Food-related industries. Some food industries have a few Classes and others have over twenty. Information from the manufacturer should assist you in selecting the correct Class code.

Several examples are provided here to help get you acquainted with food classes. Click on an Industry to review the associated Classes.

E Bread Doughs
D Bread Heat/Serve
A Bread/Rolls
M Cookie, Biscuit and Wafer Doughs
F Crackers
G Filled Crackers
J Filled/Iced Cookies, Biscuits and Wafers
U Icings and Icing Mixes
Y Other Bakery Products, N.E.C.
H Plain Cookies, Biscuits and Wafers
K Prep Dry Cookie, Biscuit, Wafer Mix W/Milk Or Eggs
L Prep Dry Cookie, Biscuit, Wafer Mix Wo/Milk Or Eggs
B Prep Dry Mix (Bread Etc) W/Milk Or Egg
C Prep Dry Mix (Bread Etc) Wo/Milk Or Egg
P Prep Dry Sweet Goods Mix W/Cust-Crm Fill
S Prep Dry Sweet Goods Mix Wo/Cust-Crm Fill
N Sweet Goods Custard/Cream Fill
R Sweet Goods Not Cust/Cream Fill
T Sweet Goods, Dough&Batter Wo/Cust-Crm Fill
Q Sweet Goods, Dough&Batter, Cust-Crm Fill
Y Egg And Egg Products, N.E.C.
C Egg Mixes
E Imitation/Subst Egg Prod
D Incubator Rejects
A Shell Eggs
B Shelled Egg Prod
K Edible Seed
M Edible Seed Prod
N Imit/Subst Nut/Edible Seed Prod
L Mix Edible Seed
G Mix Nut in Shell
J Mix Nut Prod
H Mix Nut Shelled
C Nut Butter
A Nut in Shell
D Nut Paste
B Nut Shelled
E Nut Spread
F Nut Topping
Y Nut/Edible Seed, N.E.C.
AAnticaking & Freeflow Agents
BAntimicrobial Agents
DColor Adjuncts
ECuring & Pickling Agents
FDough Strengtheners
GDrying Agents
HEmulsifiers & Emulsifier Salts
JFirming Agents
KFlavor Enhancers
LFlavoring Agents & Adjuvants
MFlour Treating Agents
NFormulation Aids
RLeavening Agents
SLubricants & Release Agents
TNon-Nutritive Sweetners
VNutritive Sweetners
WOxidizing & Reducing Agents
XPh Control Agents
YFood Additives For Human Use n.e.c.
AProcessing Aids
BPropellants, Aerating Agents & Gases
DSolvents & Vehicles
EStabilizers & Thickners
FSurface-Active Agents
GSurface-Finishing Agents

The Food and Food-Related Subclasses

For products under Industry codes 02 – 50, subclass refers to the container type — the primary materials that contact and/or hold the product.

Food container materials are important to the FDA because they can affect food products in numerous ways. Food containers maintain freshness, prevent damage and spoilage, make the product more attractive, etc. Food containers can also contaminate the product through chemical migration, foreign objects, etc.

The materials used for containers by the food industry vary depending upon the product, type of storage, physical character of the food, etc. Many materials and combinations of materials can be used for food containers. Only the common container materials are listed below and throughout the Product Code.

Containers should be coded by specifying the primary material that contacts and/or holds the product. For example, an inner coating or film may contact the food, such as the coating on an interior surface of a metal can or the coating inside of a paper box. In these two examples, the container types would be "metal" and "paper" respectively, since they are the primary container materials.

Examples of other container types are a plastic bag or a paper bag within an outer box. In these two examples, the container types would be "Plastic, Synth (Flexible)" and "Paper," respectively. For many containers, the primary container material may not be readily visible, such as in the case of lined boxes or laminated containers. Obtain further information through a sample of the product or from the import documentation, Importer of Record, or the manufacturer, or shipper.

The table below gives you some examples of the type of containers that should be coded under the common container materials listed in the subclass.

A Fabric Containers Textile or fabric bag, stocking or casing, burlap, etc.
B Ceramic, Earthenware Ceramic jar, earthenware bottle, crock, jar, etc.
C Glass Glass containers with coated or uncoated aluminum lids; cork stoppers; lined or unlined plastic lids; coated, lined or bare steel-based plate lids; coated or uncoated tin lids, lined or unlined tin lids.
D Laminated (flexible or rigid) Laminated containers are a variety of different materials BONDED together, such as layered containers comprised of paper and foil, paper and plastic, etc. This includes laminated pouches and bags, and laminated tubes with plastic, cork-lined, foil-lined, laminated and aluminum lids
E Metal Containers comprised of aluminum, tin or tinless steel-based material. Includes aluminum cans, trays, tubes and foil; and foil lines, loose or unbonded, within a paper bag, sack, pouch, etc.
F Paper Fiber (board) barrels, drums, pouches, sacks, bags, boxes, cartons, etc. Also includes tubes with aluminum ends. Note: includes wax paper, etc.
G Plastic, Synth (flexible) Plastic bags, pouches, wrappers, boil-in-bags, shrink packs, squeeze bottles or tubes with line/unlined tops, etc. Also includes plastic lines, loose or unbonded within a paper bag, sack, pouch, etc.
H Nonflex Plastic, (rigid, or semi-rigid) Rigid or semi-rigid plastic containers with plastic aluminum, steel-based, or tin lids. Also includes plastic trays or pans with foil, cellophane, paper or cardboard covers.
J Wood Wood barrel, cask, wheel, box, drum, etc.
M Multiple Use only when there is more than one type of food contact container of different materials. Examples: pizza mix kits, noodle and cheese dinners, etc.
V Vacuum or Modified Atmosphere Packaging Either gases have been removed (vacuum) or the air in the package or container is replaced by one or more gases, in various concentrations (modified atmosphere-packaging), before the package is commercially sterile but may be hermetically sealed. Product is not shelf stable (e.g., requires refrigeration or freezing).
W Wax Products with a wax covering such as cheese, vegetables, etc. (Excludes waxed paper)
Y Container Type, N.E.C. Container type unknown or no container used. Not Elsewhere Classified. No container, such as fresh vegetable products in open baskets or in display bins and naturally covered products, such as bananas, unshucked corn, eggs, etc.

The Food-Related Process Indicator Codes (PIC)

The Process Indicator Code describes the process used in preparing a food product. There are 14 possible processes to choose from. The first decision to be made is whether a product is Unprocessed (Raw) or Processed (Packaged). The invoice or other product information should help you determine whether the product is unprocessed or processed.

If the product has not been processed, the appropriate Raw PIC (i.e., B, C or D) is used. Keep in mind that Raw refers to unprocessed products (e.g., fresh, and or in natural state). If the product has received any type of processing, the Raw PICs do not apply. For example, filleted, skinned, fresh fish; peeled or deveined shrimp; or smoked fish are processed foods. One of the processed PICs should be selected.

The most widely used PIC for processed foods is Packaged Food. However, when appropriate, a specific PIC should be utilized to identify the treatment used in preparing the finished product, e.g., heat treated (cooked); pasteurized; commercially sterile; ultra-pasteurized; aseptic pack; or other processing used.

The below table briefly defines the PIC codes currently in use.

B Raw Product is in its natural state, (e.g., fresh, raw and/or natural product). The product is NOT stored or transported refrigerated or frozen, but held in ambient temperatures (e.g., grains, nuts, or seeds, etc.)
C Raw, Fresh Refrigerated Product is in its natural state (e.g., fresh, raw and/or natural product). Includes such functions as waxing, polishing, etc. that make a raw product appear better (e.g., fresh product). The product may be fresh packaged and refrigerated or on wet ice. Includes de-headed "shell on" shrimp de-headed and/or gutted whole fish, etc. See also PIC "T."
D Raw, Fresh Frozen Product is in natural state (e.g., fresh, raw and/or natural product). The product may be fresh packaged and frozen. Includes frozen de-headed "shell-on" shrimp, de-headed and/or gutted whole fish, etc. See also PIC "T."

Note: Filleted. Skinned, fresh fish or peeled/deveined shrimp is a processed food and will be in PIC Code "T".

For de-headed raw "shell-on" shrimp; gutted and/or de-headed whole fish, etc., use the following PIC codes as applicable: "raw, fresh, refrigerated" use code "C", "raw, fresh frozen" use code "D.".

E Commercially Sterile Packed in hermetically sealed containers; then heated to achieve commercial sterility. Product is shelf stable.

Examples of commercially sterile products include canned vegetables and canned fish products.

Note: canned fruit, most tomato products, and pickled vegetable products do not fall within this process because they are not heated to achieve commercial sterility.

F Aseptic Pack Heated to achieve commercial sterility and packed using pre-sterilized containers and closures and then hermetically sealed.

Examples of products that may be aseptically packed include single serving milk based drink products and single serving pudding products.

H Dried Natural Or Artificial The product is either dried naturally or by using heat, cold and/ or chemicals.

Examples include raisins, dried fruit mixes, nonfat dry milk, etc.

I Acidified Packed in hermetically sealed containers; acids or acid foods added to low-acid food(s). May be heat treated or pasteurized. Product is shelf stable.

Vegetables such as peppers, pickles and relish are acidified.

N Heat Treated Product or concentrate is fully or partially heated (e.g., baked, blanche, cooked, fried, boiled, etc.). The product is not commercially sterile but may be hermetically sealed. Product is not shelf stable (e.g., requires refrigeration or freezing).
O Pasteurized Product or concentrate is heated at a temperature of 145°F for 30 minutes or 161°F for 15 seconds. The process will destroy certain disease-producing organisms; destroy or reduce the number of spoilage organisms in certain foods. The product is not commercially sterile but may be hermetically sealed. Product is not shelf stable (e.g., requires refrigeration or freezing). Product labeling in most cases will reflect this process (e.g. crabmeat, apple cider, orange juice, egg nog, etc.).
P Cultured Or Cured The product is cultured, fermented, salted (brined), (pickled), smoked cured, sugar cured or has an enzymatic reaction which may be the result of naturally occurring enzymes or chemicals.

Examples of cultured or cured products include sauerkraut, wine, aged cheese (hard or soft) and naturally fermented pickles. Note that this does not include products that have been processed by direct acidification (adding an acid ingredient, such as vinegar, directly to the product). Those products are coded as Acidified.

R Irradiated Product is irradiated. Irradiated products receive treatment with radiation as a method of preservation. This process is used infrequently. Without information from the manufacturer it is difficult to determine whether a product has been irradiated.

Examples of products that may be processed in this manner are spices.

S Ultrapasteurized Product or concentrate is heated between 190-120°F or greater with exposure time from 1 second or greater. The process will destroy certain disease-producing organisms; destroy or reduce the number of spoilage organisms in certain foods. The product is not commercially sterile but may be hermetically sealed. Product is not shelf stable (e.g., requires refrigeration or freezing). Product labeling in most cases will reflect this process (e.g., coffee creamer, shelf-stable milk, etc.).
T Packaged Food (Not commercially sterile) These products are not commercially sterile but may be hermetically sealed (e.g., shelf stable fruit drink in cans, tomato juice, and pineapple juice). The product may or may not be shelf-stable (e.g., may be held ambient, refrigerated, or frozen). Processing of the finished product may include any of the following processes:
  • Addition of sauces, breading, etc.
  • Milling, grinding, or mixing of dry ingredients
  • Filleting, skinning fresh fish, shucking shellfish
  • Peeling, deveining raw shrimp
U Aseptic Lab Analysis-Not For Use As Food Intended for food samples for analysis that will not be consumed as food
W LACF Lab Analysis Only-Not For Use As Food Intended for food samples for analysis that will not be consumed as food
X Acidified Lab Analysis-Not For Use As Food Intended for food samples for analysis that will not be consumed as food
Y N.E.C. Not Elsewhere Classified.

This classification is for products that receive a new or unusual process that does not fit any of the other PICs.

Check Your Knowledge

1. You are coding a food additive known as monosodium glutamate (MSG). Reading the manufacturer's information, you determine that MSG is used to increase the flavor of food. Which of the following Food Additive Class Codes would you select for MSG?
2. A shipment of frozen shrimp is ready to be coded. You successfully determine Industry Code and Class Code. The product is packed in plastic bags that are placed in large cardboard cartons. Which of the following Subclasses would you select for this product?
3. The product you are coding is Canadian snow crab legs. The crab legs were flash frozen and then shipped to the U.S. Which one of the following Process Indicator Codes (PIC) should you choose?

Code the Products

Now you will have a chance to practice coding some food and food-related products. Below you will find five product descriptions. Read the descriptions and then click on the PCB Application button below. This will take you to the Product Code Builder application.

Have notepaper and a pen or pencil handy. As you code each product, write down the product code result. When you're ready to check your answers, click the Tutorial button on the Taskbar. The Taskbar is located at the bottom of the screen. This will bring you back here. Caution: Don't click the Tutorial button in the Product Code Builder application, it will take you to the beginning of the Tutorial.


Soft Drink/Water



Packaged Food

Bottled Spring or Mineral Water


Alcoholic Beverage




Wine, Red (Still)


Candy W/o Choc/ Special/Chew Gum

Hard Candy W/o Nut/Fruit

Plastic, Synth

Packaged Food

Flavored Candy,
(Live Savers, Etc.) Without Nuts/Fruit


Fishery/Seafood Prod



Raw — Fresh,Frozen, Natural State



Cheese/Cheese Prod

Standard Cheese

Plastic, Synth



Check your answers — Click on reveal code for each product description to reveal the correct product code. Compare it with the one you got. Did you get the correct code? If not, determine which element was incorrect. You can go back through the lesson and review the various elements of the product code. Then, go back to the Product Code Builder application and try again.

Back to Top
Go to Top