How to Cite Nutrient Content Claims on a Food Label
As we move into part three of our “claims series”, you may want to grab a pen and a pad of paper as we dive into nutrient content claims on a food label as this particular portion of claim citation comes with several legal stipulations around what can and can not be stated based on the nutrition content in your product. While manufacturers may proceed independently (and might we add, with caution) with citing nutrient content claims on a food label, we advise that you have a legal professional review your product that specializes in nutrient content claims to assure that your product is properly branded and that the nutrient contents accurately support your claims.
As previously covered in part one of our claims series, a nutrient content claim can be defined as a claim that speaks (directly or indirectly through implication) to the level of a nutrient contained within a food. These claims specifically refer to the actual nutrient content that is displayed on the nutrition facts panel. To oversimplify, if your food product has a scant amount of protein, you can not place a claim on your label that states that your product is “an excellent source of protein”. This would be a false claim that will most likely result in a legal battle as well as a mass recall of all products proclaiming this false claim on their labels.
We can’t stress enough the importance of accuracy and honesty when citing a nutrient content claim. And everything you need to know can be found in the little nutrition report contained within your nutrition facts panel. This is why it’s important to use FDA approved and well-established programs like LabelCalc that have been providing accurate nutrition reporting and FDA-compliant nutrition facts panels for well over 17 years without a single recall. (We know, shameless plug, but true nonetheless)
Spotting Nutrient Content Claims
When you look at a food label, several statements can be made on the front of the panel to grab the attention of the consumer and inform them that the food product contains nutrients and health benefits that may speak to their personal dietary lifestyle. We’ve all seen them before, below is an abbreviated list of what a nutrient content claim could look like on a food label.
Nutrient Content Claim Types
- “A good source of…”
- “A great source of…”
- “An excellent source of…”
- “High in..”
- “Rich in…”
- “More, Fortified with, Enriched, Added..”
- “High Potency”
- “Free” (as in fat-free, sugar-free)
- “Low” ( Low-fat, low-sugar)
- “Less/Reduced” (sugar-less, reduced sodium)
The food product nutrition content must meet the strict guidelines and parameters set forth by the FDA in order to accurately make these nutrient content claims on a food label. For a more in-depth look at nutrient content claims, download this PDF.
A Quick Reference Summary of Parameters
To gain a deeper understanding of how to cite nutrient content claims on a food label, it is important to know the particular stipulations around the claims you are looking to make. So, you have your nutrient report, you know your ingredients, so how do you decode the appropriate claims for your food product? This table below (taken from the aforementioned PDF download) will begin to give you an idea of what the above claim types actually mean.
As you can see, these claims are all centered around the RACC guidelines for appropriate portioning of food products. If you unfamiliar with the term “RACC”, which stands for Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed, download this comprehensive list to familiarize yourself with RACC’s and accurately determine the serving size of your food product before proceeding forward with citing any nutrient content claims on a food label of any kind.
Consulting with a Professional
Citing nutrient content claims on a food label can be a daunting process. With all of the rules that must be followed and the legal-issue potential around citing false claims, sometimes it’s helpful to place your nutrition label in the hands of an industry trained and degreed nutrition professional. They exist and we’re proof! Not all nutritional professionals are created equal, so it is important to have the right combination. Our staff nutrition team combines the knowledge base of nutritionists and Registered Dietitians with decades of food industry experience. To get in touch with our nutrition team and have your label personally handled, please contact us.
Curious about nutrient content claims and other information regarding the parameters of FDA-approved food labeling? Join us LIVE for our weekly LIVE Labeling events every Friday! These events are FREE and informative and give you the opportunity to ask your questions to our team right in our webinar. Register here for the next Live Labeling Event. See you there!