A Guide to Using FDA Rounding Rules for Your Food Label

A Guide to Using FDA Rounding Rules for Your Food Label

Online nutrition analysis software makes easy work of the FDA’s complex rounding rules.

Online nutrition analysis software makes easy work of the FDA’s complex rounding rules. Image source: Unsplash user Volkan Olmez.

As a food manufacturer, you know your food labels must comply with FDA guidelines for nutrition information. And while these guidelines are important in providing transparency about your products so consumers can make educated decisions, the rules can be overwhelming and complicated to navigate.

For a busy food manufacturer with a million things to do, it can be frustrating to take time out of your day to sift through FDA documents—especially when they are about topics as dry and as potentially confusing as the FDA’s rounding rules. While having a standard for how to round nutritional values is undoubtedly important for the sake of consistency, actually doing the work can be a little tedious. After all, almost every value on the nutrition facts panel has to be rounded differently.

In hopes of making things easier for you and saving you time, I’ve outlined the basic rounding guidelines for your nutrition facts panel in the simplest terms so you know what the FDA expects. And although it isn’t as simple as rounding up or down to the nearest unit for each value, adhering to the rounding guidelines doesn’t need to be difficult.

FDA Rounding Rules for Your Nutrition Facts Panel

Most forms of nutritional analysis will give you unrounded values with decimal points, but for the sake of concision and consistency, all values must be rounded. Below are the specific rounding rules for each part of the nutrition facts panel:

Servings per container

If your product has:

  • Between 2 and 5 servings per container, round to the nearest half serving (i.e. 3.23 rounds to 3).
  • Over 5 servings per container, round to the nearest whole serving (i.e. 6.6 servings rounds to 7).

Calories

If your product has:

  • Fewer than 5 calories per serving, round down to zero.
  • 50 or fewer calories per serving, round to the nearest 5 increment (i.e. 42 rounds to 40).
  • More than 50 calories per serving, round to the nearest 10 increment (i.e. 106 becomes 110).

Calories from Fat, Total Fat, Saturated Fat, and Trans Fat

If your value for total fat is:

  • Less than 0.5 grams, round down to 0 (i.e. 0.48 becomes 0).
  • Between 0.5 and 5 grams, round to the nearest half gram (i.e. 4.38 rounds to 4.5).
  • 5 grams and above, round to the nearest whole gram (i.e. 78.73 rounds to 79).

*Note that cholesterol is rounded the same way, but the unit is milligrams rather than grams.

Sodium

If your values for sodium or potassium are:

  • Less than 5 mg per serving, round down to zero.
  • Between 5 and 140 mg per serving, round to the nearest 5 increment (i.e. 66 becomes 65).
  • Greater than 140 mg, round to the nearest 10 increment (154 becomes 150).

Total Carbohydrate, Dietary Fiber, Sugar, and Protein

If your product has:

  • Less than 0.5 grams per serving, round down to 0.
  • Less than 1 gram per serving, state “less than 1 gram.”
  • 1 gram or more, round to the nearest whole gram ( i.e. 21.25 becomes 21).

Vitamins and Minerals (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron)

If your product has:

  • A vitamin or mineral value with less than 2% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI), it can be expressed in the following four ways:
    • Zero
    • A statement that says something to the effect of, “less than 2% of the Daily Value for X nutrient.” Use an asterisk to denote this underneath and place the statement in the footnote section of the nutrition facts panel.
    • A statement that says something to the effect of “not a significant source of X nutrient” if all four required vitamins and minerals are less than 2%.
    • 2% if the value is greater than 1% (excluding Vitamin A and C).
  • 10% or less of the RDI for any vitamins or minerals, round to the nearest 2% increment (i.e. 5 rounds to 6).
  • Between 10% and 50% of the RDI for any vitamins or minerals, round to the nearest 5% increment (i.e. 23 rounds to 25).
  • 50% or higher of the RDI for any vitamins or minerals, round to the nearest 10% increment (i.e. 106 rounds to 110).

How Online Nutrition Analysis Software Makes Rounding Easier

While it is true that the rounding rules can be overwhelming, there is an easy way to ensure you’ve rounded every value on your nutrition facts panel properly. Online nutrition analysis software, like LabelCalc, can instantly round all the values on your panel according to the rules listed above. It also allows you to view the unrounded values if that is of interest or importance to you. All you have to do is enter your recipe using a USDA-approved ingredient database and determine your serving size, then a complete nutrition facts panel with neatly rounded values is instantly generated. It will also create an ingredient list and allergen statement which you can customize to your liking.

Not only can this rounding function save you a lot of time and tedious work when creating your nutrition label, but FDA-compliant software will also ensure that everything on your label—from the values to the label size and layout—is accurate and up to date with the latest FDA labeling guidance. And as a food manufacturer, you know that providing consumers with accurate nutrition information for the food products you create is one of your greatest responsibilities.

At LabelCalc, our user-friendly online nutrition analysis software for food manufacturers helps you make nutrition facts panels with rounded values quickly and easily. To learn more or to set up an account, contact us today.

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