The inclusion of nutritional information on your finished product label is a legal requirement in the majority of countries. This information makes it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. But how do you work out what the nutrient values should be? This post digs into the what, why and how when it comes to educating consumers about your food product.
What is Nutritional Information?
Nutritional information is a collection of nutrients and their values that are present in a food product. The most common nutrients include energy (kilojoules or calories), protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars, and sodium (a component of salt). Generally, data per 100g and also per serving size is required.
Declaration of Mandatory Nutrients
Depending on where you are located, the law will stipulate what nutrients are required to be declared. There may be exemptions depending on the type of food that you manufacture. The following table provides a general overview.
Making Nutrient Claims
If you make a nutritional claim on your food packaging or food label you may also be required to include that data as part of your nutritional information. For example, if you claim your product is ‘high in omega-3’ you would need to declare the omega-3 values.
There are two ways to determine the nutrition information of your food products. You can determine by laboratory analysis or by calculation. Laboratory Analysis involves you sending your finished product to a laboratory where they will physically test the product using approved methods.
The calculation method involves using your recipe/formulation, raw ingredient nutrient data, and processing losses or gains to calculate the finished products overall nutrient value.
You can complete this process manually or use a nutrient software calculator. In the past, I have used Nutritics, FoodWorks and Nutritionist Pro. Free resources can also be found at Nutrition Panel Calculator (Australia) (updated in September 2023) or at Online Labels.
The manual calculation can be very time-consuming if you have multiple products. I prefer using purpose-built software (Foodworks) as it also provides additional information that is required to appear on a food label. For example, ingredients list, country of origin, allergen statements, daily intake %.
Validating your Nutritional Information
If your company maintains 3rd party certification to a GFSI accredited standard, there is a requirement to validate your nutritional information. To help with compliance, make sure that you keep a copy of how your calculations were completed, with emphasis on the recipe/formulation that was used during the calculation process.
Get more information
To find out what the legal requirements are in your country of manufacture please review your applicable legislation or seek your own legal advice.
Have your say
What is the method that you use in your food business to calculate the nutritional information of your products. Share your experience by leaving a comment below this post.