How to calculate your product nutritional information

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.

Declaration of Mandatory Nutrients

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.

Calculation Methods

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) 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 visit your 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.

18 thoughts on “How to calculate your product nutritional information”

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      Hi Robbie

      You can either get a laboratory to complete the analysis on your finished product or use a ‘calculation tool/software’ to do it a manual calculation. You will also need to check in your country of origin what is required/acceptable by law.

  1. Hi, we calculate the nutritional information using an online tool. If for example, we are calculating the nutritional information for a meat pie, where we use raw pastry and an already cooked pie filling, and then bake the final pie to make the finished product, would we use the raw pie filling ingredient weights or the cooked pie filling ingredient weights (taking into account the proportionate weight loss in each ingredient when cooking the pie filling), in the calculation of the nutritional information.?

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      Hi Sonali

      If you are calculating the nutritional via a data calculation tool (eg. Foodworks) you need to set all component recipes up as sub-recipes. For example, a meat pie would be:

      Subrecipes

      Bottom pastry (raw)
      Top pastry (raw)
      Meatpie filling (cooked) [You would put all the ingredients in raw and then account the moisture loss as a %]

      You would then build the pie in the calculation tool just like you would during production.

      Final Pie Recipe

      Bottom Pastry Sub recipe
      Top Pastry Sub recipe
      Cooked filling
      Glaze (if you use one)
      Garnish (if you use eg. sesame seeds, poppyseeds, scrap pastry)

      You would then account for the baking moisture loss as a %. For example, pre-baked weight minus the baked weight will give you a difference that you then convert to a % loss.

  2. Hi Amanda,

    I am interested in producing Baby food and an a bit stuck. Can I use a calorie calculator to label it? I notice that the Nutritional values are usually the adult equivalent, and I am using foods that are rarely on the calculators.

    What can I do? It’s a very small business so I do not have the resources for lab testing right now, but intend to package and label the food to sell in our local shop (as fresh and kept in the fridge).

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      It is best to check with UK Food Standards Agency since you are located in the UK. Also, keep in mind that you are selling to an ‘at-risk’ consumer group. At a minimum, you should be having the product verified for shelf life against target micro hazards.

  3. The nutritional content of a food product can accurately be done by laboratory tests.In other words, the food samples are brought to the laboratory for nutritional analysis. A laboratory certificate of analysis is provided by the laboratory, together with the Nutrifacts Table.

  4. Alexis Mallillin

    Dear Amanda, this is another great topic which is very timely here in Dubai. By 2020, it is noe a mandatory requirement for all restaurant menus to calorie count labeling in the menus. More power to your topics which is indeed very helpful to all food safety enthusiasts all over the world! Best regards, Alexis

  5. When the nutritional information is calculated and verified by a chemical test when the product is launched is there a requirement to verify the data annually or at a stated frequency? I understand that if any ingredient is changed it would be required to undertake the calculation and verification prior to making the change so that the new finished product nutritional data matches that on the new packaging.

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      It really depends on what your 3rd party certification standard requires. But in saying this, and in the eyes of the law, your product labelling needs to be conveying truthful information at all times and not mislead the customer.

  6. FX Hartanti Satochid { Francisca )

    In Indonesia we have guidance issued by National Agency of Drug and Food Control (NADFC)

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