Creating Your First Nutrition Label: An FDA Food-Labeling Guide for the Manufacturer
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all food manufacturers are required by law to provide the nutrition information of their food product on their packaging in the form of a nutrition facts label. This label must be in the latest 2020 format and not only provide nutrition facts such as serving size, total fat, carbohydrate, protein, and dietary fiber, but also allergen information if the ingredient list contains one or more of the top 8 food allergens. Also, to place various health claims on food products, such as low-fat or gluten-free, the product must meet certain criteria that can only be identified through nutrition analysis.
If you are a new food manufacturer, food labeling may sound like a daunting task, especially if you have multiple food products. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are new to nutrition labeling and are looking for a way to meet labeling requirements and create your very first FDA-approved nutrition facts label, then this food labeling guide is for you.
As previously mentioned, to place health claims on your food products, your nutrition information must be accurate. It goes without saying that the same rule applies to your nutrient content claims. This nutrition information is what fills in each required category of the nutrition facts panel you want to create for your product packaging. Accurate nutrition analysis of your food products can be performed one of several ways, from lab-testing to analysis by intelligent software backed with a USDA ingredient database. For this food labeling guide we will be highlighting the latter using LabelCalc’s Nutrition Analysis and FDA-approved food labeling software.
Identify Your Ingredients
Step one in creating your label is to enter your ingredients. This does not mean that you are entering your ingredient’s individual nutrition information into the software. What you are doing is using the search bar to Identify your ingredients. Type in your first ingredient in to the search bar labeled “From LabelCalc’s Ingredient Database” (as pictured below) and the nutrition information will automatically be pulled from LabelCalc’s 18,000 lab-tested ingredient database sourced directly from the USDA. This information will be used to perform your nutrition analysis and create an accurate report for your nutrition facts label. This report is culminated in real-time as your ingredients are identified and can be seen in list form with running caloric values next to the ingredient names. (see picture belo
If you have unique ingredients that have been created and sourced from a supplier that you know would not be housed in LabelCalc’s database, you still have the option of adding the ingredient for nutrition reporting. This would be the ONLY case in which you are truly “entering an ingredient”. You can add a new ingredient by clicking the “add a new ingredient” tab next to the bar that says “My Ingredient Database”
From here, a box will appear that will allow you to enter all of the nutrition information for your unique ingredients. (see below)
Once entered, the new ingredient can be saved and pulled back up for later use in other recipes using the “My Ingredient Database” tab. This new ingredient will be added into your ingredient list in appropriate order for your nutrition facts label and the nutrition information will be counted in the overall nutrition analysis for your recipe.
When using LabelCalc, your nutrition information is confidential to you and saved for viewing and use in your account only. The only users that will have access to your ingredient and/or nutrition information will be the individuals you have granted access to your account with accurate login information. LabelCalc will automatically supply a confidentiality agreement upon registering your account and your content will be kept safe. In 14 years, LabelCalc has never been a single discrepancy nor a recall on a food product. So safety as well as accuracy is 100% guaranteed.
Step 2: Serving Sizes
In the photo above, you can see that serving sizes are the next step in creating your first nutrition facts label. This takes into consideration a products “yield”. If you’re new to food manufacturing, this term can be confusing.
What is Yield?
Yield is how much of a product is available after it has been processed. For example, when trimming a small fish, you may begin with 500g but once the bones, skin and fat have been removed, the fish remaining may only be 370g. This is what is also known as the EP or the Edible Product weight. If you want to know more about product yield testing, here’s a great article on the subject: https://opentextbc.ca/basickitchenandfoodservicemanagement/chapter/yield-testing/
Entering Serving Size
In the case that you do not know the yield, or there is no yield to be reported, simply move right on to the next step: entering your serving size.
Based on the ingredients you have entered, the nutrition calculator portion of the LabelCalc software will give you an overall ingredient weight. This is labeled as the product’s “pre-weight”. As pictured below, you can see this number is 771.7 grams for the product’s total weight. This recipe in our example yields 6 servings. To determine the individual serving size, LabelCalc has a tool to the right of the screen called the “Serving Size Assistance Tool”. Simply enter the amount of servings your product yields and it will calculate the weight in grams of your individual serving size. See example below:
As you can see, a single serving size from the product’s total weight of 771.7 g and when I enter that my product will yield 6 servings into the Serving Size Assistance Tool, it calculates the individual serving size as 128.62g.
This amount can then be entered into the serving size box in Step 1 as pictured above and the LabelCalc software will automatically round the weight to the nearest gram per FDA Rounding Rules for accuracy and compliance.
At this point, you can enter the information into the open fields in the nutrition label, save, and you are ready for the next step!
Step 3: Allergen Information & Ingredient Statements
According to FDA regulations, if a food product contains any of the top 8 food allergens: egg, fish, milk, peanut, shellfish, tree nuts, soy or wheat, the nutrition facts label must be accompanied by an allergen statement. This statement alerts the consumer of the presence of these allergens in the product for safety purposes. This includes the possibility of the food product being handled in a facility where cross-contamination can occur. Cross-contamination occurs when a food that is not or does not contain an allergen is handled on the same surfaces or within a facility that an allergen is processed. The LabelCalc software flags potential allergens based upon the ingredients you identify and list in your product recipe.
When LabelCalc flags potential allergens, confirm their presence by checking the boxes and saving the information by clicking the “save allergens” button. Click “insert into ingredient statement” to have your label accompanied by your allergen statement.
As you can see in the picture above, the ingredient list is organized by predominance. The FDA requires that ingredients be listed by their presence in a food from largest to smallest amounts. They are listed in what is referred to as “descending order” based on the weight of the food item. This order is created by the weight of your individual ingredients that have been identified in your recipe in their proper amounts. This order may not be changed per FDA regulations because it is in complete compliance with FDA standards.
Once reviewed and confirmed, you may then download your ingredient statement complete with allergen statement to accompany your nutrition facts label for full compliance with all FDA labeling laws and regulations.
Last Step: Choose Your Label Format & Download
Once all recipe information has been entered and confirmed, it is time to choose your label format. Criteria for the label format you should use is based upon your product package size.
For packages with less than 40 square inches to bear labeling, the linear, tabular and standard formats without footnote about daily values are acceptable. Packages that have 40 or more square inches of display area, the standard 2020 format is most recommended. See below:
Format recommended for packages with 40 or more square inches of display area to bear labeling.
Example of Tabular format without Daily value % footnote for packages with less than 40 square inches of available display area to bear nutrition labeling.
To choose your label format type, simply click the criteria pertinent to your specific product packaging. If your product package has 40 or more square inches of space available for labeling, choose the standard format. Otherwise, tabular and linear formats are available. All label formatting available on LabelCalc is compliant with the new ruling for 2020 Updated Labeling Standards for complete FDA compliance.
Once the format has been chosen, the preview will display in the window and you can choose the file type you would like your label to be downloaded in. And you’re done!
You’ve just created your first FDA-approved nutrition facts label, complete with allergen & ingredient statements! Congratulations!
The LabelCalc nutrition analysis and food labeling software was specifically created for the food manufacturer for complete FDA compliance. With zero recalls in over 14 years in the industry, we are the most reliable software for food retail on the market to date. Ready to create your first label? Get started now.