When it comes to creating nutrition facts panels for your food products, not all pathways are created equal. You might be a brand new manufacturer (hesitant to even put that label on your work yet), navigating food labeling for the first time. Or, you might have an established product line that you’ve nurtured for some time. Anyway that you roll it, you know that your nutrition facts panel is important. And we second that notion by emphasizing that it is the solitary thing that puts you on, or keeps you off, of a retail grocery store shelf. No matter how you go about labeling, the rules for FDA-compliance are simply a part that one must abide by in order to achieve retail readiness. For this reason, we bring you the top 5 tips from our staff Registered Dietitian, Elysa Dinzes.
1. Include Ingredient Statements for External Ingredients
When you are using a nutrition database to create Nutrition Facts panels, as you would in LabelCalc, many times you may have to manually enter what is called an “external ingredient”. An example of an external ingredient could be a sauce or marinade that you’ve made personally. And this particular home-made sauce tends to support the larger recipe or recipes that you are creating nutrition panels for.
When entering an external ingredient into your personal ingredient database, it’s quite common to forget to include the ingredient statement that accompanies this “external ingredient’. For example, an ingredient statement for breaded eggplant slices might look like this “Eggplant Slices (eggplant, flour, canola oil, egg, salt, black pepper)”. An ingredient statement is required on a nutrition fact panel. Ingredients must be listed in order of predominance and in descending order. So when you are creating nutrition fact panels, first check to make sure that all of your external ingredients have ingredient statements that include all of the ingredients within. If they don’t, add them back in exactly the same order as you see them on the ingredient’s packaging label.
2. Allergen Information
Per the FDA, allergen information is required on a nutrition facts panel in the form of an allergen statement that reflects the presence of any of the Top 8 food allergens. When creating nutrition facts panels in LabelCalc, make sure to check off all of the applicable allergens when adding a new recipe or an external ingredient If you didn’t do this, specifically when you added external ingredients for your products calorie labeling, your nutrition panel will not accurately reflect your recipe’s ingredient contents.
3. Serving Size and Servings Per Container
When entering your food product’s nutritional information into LabelCalc to create a nutrition fact panel, pay special attention to the serving size and/or the servings per container. A serving size can be any of the following: “1 container”, “1 sandwich”, “1/2 cup”, “1/2 container”, etc. If there is more than one serving in the container, you’ll need to make sure that the “servings per container” is reflected accurately. If you haven’t yet determined the appropriate serving size for your food product, or do not know how, it is important to note that the FDA has created specific parameters around determining appropriate serving sizes for all types of consumer packaged goods. You can view the full guide here.
4. Selecting Required Nutrients
When creating a recipe in MenuCalc, you have the option to select particular nutrients in order to capture their information in your nutrition report. If you want to take a menu recipe and make a nutrition panel for it, these nutrients need to be reflected on your panel, so it’s important that these boxes are checked off in the platform. When these boxes are checked, all of the nutrients will show up on your label if you choose to transfer the nutritional information to a nutrition fact panel. Most of the nutrients offered in LabelCalc are required on your nutrition panel, however the new 2020 label format does not require certain nutrients ( such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A). So you can choose to include them or leave them off while still remaining in compliance with FDA requirements.
5. Check for Errors
To err is human, for this reason it’s always a good rule of thumb to check your nutritional analysis or label for errors. If any of the nutrients seem too high or low, there may be an error in how the recipe was entered. These errors typically surface regarding external ingredients, sub-recipes, serving size and servings per container. Luckily, the LabelCalc platform has an error-flagging feature for the times when numbers just aren’t adding up. If you opt for SKEPTIK, our user-error flagging feature, it will run silently in the background until an error is made so that you can make sure your labels are always accurate.
Creating nutrition facts panels doesn’t have to be complicated. LabelCalc makes it easy, and our staff dietitian has tips to make it even easier.
While pivoting in any capacity during COVID-19 might be challenging, creating nutrition panels doesn’t have to be. With these tips, plus a handful of helpful built-in features provided in the LabelCalc platform, you can create nutrition labels for your menu items in minutes.Are you interested in outsourcing your product labeling to Elysa, our industry dietitian? Contact us today!
What is LabelCalc?
LabelCalcⓇ is one of FoodCalc LLC’s two nutrition analysis products, created to help meet the needs of the food industry. Based in San Francisco, CA, we are a nationally recognized provider of online nutrition analysis that is fast, accurate, and FDA-compliant.
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