Nutrition Labeling Factsheet
The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was established to provide consumers with accurate information about what is in the food products they are eating. The law provides rules for nutrition labeling that must be followed for all multi-ingredient foods. In 2016, a new Nutrition Facts label was made by the FDA. Clemson can analyze the nutritional content of your food product using a food ingredient database which will then generate a nutrition label with all the necessary information in the correct format. We will send you the label in a format that you can take to a printer and use on your product.
Objective of nutrition labeling
A nutrition label provides information on the ingredients and nutritional make-up of a food including the amount of calories, carbohydrate, fat, protein, and a limited number of vitamins and minerals that the food contains.
It also provides valuable information for people following specific diet guidelines such as those required for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The new label introduced in 2016 was designed to help consumers make better food choices for their health, and is based on the most recent scientific data.
Components of a nutrition label
There are three major parts to a nutrition label: the product name including health claims, the ingredient list, and the nutrition facts panel.
The product name and any health claims are present on the front of the packaging. Health claims are closely regulated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) and must meet certain criteria. For example, a food that is labeled ‘low fat’ must not have more than 3 grams of total fat per serving. A food labeled ‘reduced fat’, however, has different criteria. It is illegal to use these health claims without first ensuring your product meets these specifications.
The ingredient list is a listing of all of the ingredients in the recipe of your food product. Ingredients are listed in order of weight with the ingredient present in the most amount/weight listed first.
The nutrition facts panel provides detailed information about the nutritional make-up of the food product. The nutrient amounts listed are based on consumption of one serving of the food product, making ‘serving size’ a key factor in the interpretation of the information.
Changes to the nutrition facts label
There are many important changes to the new Nutrition Facts panel that was released in 2016. The label remains the same visually for the most part, but many of the details have been changed.
One of the first changes you will notice is the increase in the font size of Calories, servings per container, and serving size. Along with the increase in font size, the font has been bolded for the declaration of Calories and serving size. The footnote has also changed to provide a better explanation of the concept of “Daily Value.”
Along with the overall visual changes, there are many changes to the breakdown of the nutrient composition section of the label. A new line under the Total Carbohydrate heading was added to include the declaration of added sugars. The calories from fat information has been removed from the label all together. The vitamin and mineral information has been updated to require the actual amounts of each of vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron. The old version of the label required vitamins A and C be on the label, but they are no longer required. Nutrients that are not required on the label can be included if desired. Using new scientific evidence, the Daily Values have been tweaked to better represent the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that was published in 2015.
Manufacturers are now required to declare serving sizes based on what a person would actually eat in one sitting. As an example, ice cream now has a referenced serving size of 2/3 cup instead of its previous reference of ½ cup. Some specific products that can be eaten in one sitting or in multiple sittings will require a dual column label representing both the nutrition of the product if eaten in one sitting and the nutrition of the product per intended serving.
Compliance for the new label
The new label is required for manufacturers that have $10 million or more annual food sales by July 26, 2018. Those with annual food sales of less than $10 million will have until July 26 of 2019 to adopt the new label.
Comparing old label vs new label
Requesting nutrition labeling
If you have requested product testing from Clemson University by completing the Product Testing and Nutrition Labeling Form, we have the information needed to generate a food label for you. You must make sure to check the ‘Nutrition Label’ box and complete the form in its entirety in order to have the nutritional analysis completed. The cost is $100.
Mail the completed Product Testing and Nutrition Labeling Form and check made payable to Clemson University to:
C/O Dr. Julie Northcutt; Product Testing Laboratory
Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science
223 Poole Agricultural Center
P.O. Box 340316
Clemson, SC 29634-0316
Allow four (4) weeks for analysis to be completed and the label to be returned.
Your label will be sent to you via e-mail by default or to the address provided on the Product Testing and Nutrition Labeling Form.
Interpreting your results
It is important to note that Clemson does not actually print labels for you, but we provide the nutrition label to you in a computer file or by email that can be sent to a printer. The file will be saved as an Adobe PDF which is typically the format requested by print shops.
You are advised not to make specific health claims on your food product until you have consulted with officials from the FDA to ensure your product meets the necessary standards.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 2017. Changes to the nutrition facts label. Silver Spring MD: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available from: www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm
Reviewed and updated by Andrew McCullough, Food Science Student and HGIC Intern, Clemson University.
Originally prepared by Parisi1, M. A., E. L. Steinberg2, and J. K. Northcutt3. 2012. Product testing and nutrition labeling factsheets. Prepared for the Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University. 1Assistant Professor, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Clemson University; 2Graduate Research Assistant, Clemson University; 3Professor, Clemson University.