Nutrition Label Terminology Every Food Manufacturer Should Know

Nutrition Label Terms You Should Know When Creating Your First Nutrition Facts Panel

create a nutrition label

Before you DIY your nutrition label, let’s get you familiar with the terminology so you create your label quickly and easily — with confidence!

So, you’ve chosen to DIY your nutrition label. Kudos to you! While consulting is amazing, creating your label with the right tools (and our awesome platform) doesn’t have to be difficult — as long as you know the lingo! If you’ve never created a label before or you need a refresher, this article will catch you right up to speed in no time so you can create your label with confidence. Ready?

Basic Nutrition Label Terms

Let’s begin with an overview of what a nutrition panel is and what you need to know to start creating one! First and foremost, you might have noticed that there isn’t only one term for a nutrition label. Matter of fact, we’ve used a few just in this article! A nutrition panel can be referred to as:

  • Nutrition Panel
  • Nutrition Label
  • Food Label
  • Food Panel
  • Nutrition Facts Panel
  • Nutrition Facts Label

It’s no wonder that things can get a bit confusing when you’re just starting out! These terms describe the entire label that holds the nutrition fact information that goes on the back of your food packaging. They also come in several different formats.  <——- Click that link if you need to know which one to use!

nutrition label formats

Nutrition labels, nutrition panels, nutrition facts panels, nutrition facts labels, food labels and food panels… they’re all the same thing! And they also come in a few different formats.

Accompanying Nutrition Label Statements

The nutrition label must come accompanied by two other statements in order to be FDA-compliant. And good news, we help you create those too, so you’re still in the right place. These 2 statements are:

  1. Ingredient Statement – an ingredient statement lists all of your recipe ingredients contained within your food product. They must be in descending order and have to be in the correct font type/format. (When you use LabelCalc, we automatically compile your ingredient statement for you and place it in descending order by weight and make sure that it is in the correct font/format.)
  2. Allergen Statement – The allergen statement (also known as a “Contains Statement”) is a list of any of the Top 8 Allergens that are present within your food product. (More good news! If you’re using LabelCalc, we automatically flag and compile these allergens into an allergen statement for you.)

These 2 statements can be found at the bottom of your nutrition panel and are required by the FDA to create a completed label.

ingredient and allergen statement

As you can see, this ingredient statement contains all of the ingredients contained within a food product recipe.

Serving Size Information

A large part of creating a nutrition panel is dependent you knowing your serving size and servings per container.

Serving Size- A serving size refers to the individual serving size of your product. This could be “1 cookie” or “1/4 cup” or “2 ounces” based upon the type of food product you’re selling. (You know we’ve got good news, right? If you are unsure of your serving size, we have a built-in tool to help you discover the recommended serving size of your product per the FDA.)

Servings Per Container– “Servings per container” refers to the amount of single-servings contained within the package you are selling. For example, if your single serving size was 1 cookie and your package that you’re selling contains 12 cookies, your servings per container would be 12.

Nutrition Information

The remaining information on your nutrition panel is all about nutrition! Here’s a brief breakdown of all of the nutrition reported on the label itself and what it means:

Amount Per Serving: This refers to what the nutrition report captures. The nutrition displayed on the label is the amount per single serving of your product.

Calories: The total amount of calories within your food product.

Calories from Fat: The amount of calories specifically derived from the fat contained in your food product. (There are 9 calories per 1 gram of Fat. If a food product’s single serving contains 10g of fat, it will have 90 calories from fat)

Total Fat: The total amount of fat contained within a single serving of your product. Typically fat sources are found in oil, nuts, seeds, cheeses, full-fat dairy products and fried items. These ingredients will likely contribute to your fat count.

Saturated Fat: Saturated Fat is a type of fat containing a high proportion of fatty acid molecules without double bonds, considered to be less healthy in the diet than unsaturated fat and derived from these following products:

  • butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil and palm oil.
  • cakes.
  • biscuits.
  • fatty cuts of meat.
  • sausages.
  • bacon.
  • cured meats like salami, chorizo and pancetta.
  • cheese.

Beware of Trans Fat

Trans Fat: Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat. Artificial trans fat is created during hydrogenation, which converts liquid vegetable oils into semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fat can also be found naturally in meat and dairy. Some examples include:

  • Baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and pies.
  • Shortening.
  • Microwave popcorn.
  • Frozen pizza.
  • Refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls.
  • Fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken.
  • Nondairy coffee creamer.
  • Stick margarine.

As of 2018, the FDA banned the use of artificially created trans fat in food products. Make sure that your product does not contain any trans fats are present in your recipe. How will you know? If you’re using LabelCalc, the platform will perform an analysis of your product recipe and you’ll be able to determine if trans fat is present within your ingredients based on the report. Big sigh of relief, don’t worry, you’re totally covered.

Cholesterol, Sodium,  and Sugars…. Oh MY!

Cholesterol: Total amount of cholesterol contained in your food product. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. You also can get cholesterol from foods, specifically animal-based products. For example, Meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk all have cholesterol in them. However, fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain cholesterol.

Sodium: Sodium on a nutrition panel refers to the amount of salt-derived ingredients in your product. This number can come from salt itself or by way of a sodium heavy ingredient such as soy sauce, bouillon, broth, as well as dressings and other flavor enhancers.

Total Carbohydrate: Refers to the total amount of carbohydrate present within your food product. Sources of carbohydrate can be anything from fruits and vegetables to grains, sugars and processed foods like crackers, cookies, chips, etc.

Dietary Fiber: This field refers to the amount of fiber found within your food product. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate and is found in fruits, veggies, grains, legumes (beans) and other natural sources.

Total Sugars: The total amount of sugar contained within your food product. Sources of sugar can be anything from sugar itself to honey and other sweeteners as well as ingredients that contain sugar like fruit, jams and sauces.

Added Sugars: This is a tricky one. The added sugars refer to sugars that do not occur naturally within a product. A strawberry naturally contains sugar, however, if you sprinkle granulated sugar over the strawberry, this is sugar that has been added to the product.

Protein: This is the amount of protein present in your food product. Protein sources can include dairy, meat/fish, plant-based meat substitutes, legumes and more.

You Made It!

Well there you have it. Now you’re hip with the lingo for nutrition labeling, or food-labeling or nutrition-facts-paneling — whatever you’d like to call it! So, are you ready to get started? Click here to choose which labeling plan works best for you and let’s get to it!


Download our free FDA Food Labeling white paper, and Nutrition Facts today!

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