Last week, I was working with a small-business owner who was getting ready to create the nutrition facts panel for her product, and she asked a really good question. Essentially, she wanted to know what your nutrition facts panel must list, in terms of nutrients. She had been studying the nutrition facts panels on the products in her cupboard to get a sense of what was required, but she noticed that some nutrition facts panels contained nutrients that others didn’t.
This is a common point of confusion for food manufacturers, especially those just starting out in the industry, so let’s take a look at the information that absolutely must appear on your nutrition facts panel.
Mandatory Nutrients: What Your Nutrition Facts Panel Must List
If you’ve ever read through an FDA document on food labeling, you may be familiar with the fact that some nutrients are required on every nutrition facts panel in the United States, while other nutrients are optional and can be added as the manufacturer likes.
Basically, the mandatory nutrients are the ones the FDA sees as the most important to the American diet, according to the latest nutritional science. The mandatory nutrients are either the ones we need to reduce/limit our intake of (in the case of cholesterol, sodium, and trans fat) or increase our intake of (in the case of iron, Vitamin C, and dietary fiber).
Over the years, this required information has changed a bit, and it is set to change more in the coming years when the updated nutrition facts panel rolls out in 2020. We won’t get into those upcoming nutrition facts panel changes here to avoid confusion, but these are the 15 current nutrients your nutrition facts panel must list:
- Calories from fat
- Total fat
- Total carbohydrate
- Trans fats
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
As long as your nutrition facts panel contains these nutrients and their corresponding values, you will meet the FDA’s requirements. You can add additional nutrition information to your panel, though, which you may want to do if your product has a particularly high amount of a healthy nutrient, like Vitamin D or selenium.
There are, however, some situations where you would be required to provide information for voluntary nutrients. First, if you make a nutrient content claim that refers to a nutrient that is not mandatory to list, then you need to add it to the nutrition facts panel and provide the value for it. Secondly, if you have added a voluntary nutrient as a supplement to enrich a food, you must include that nutrient and its corresponding value on your food label.
Using Online Nutrition Analysis to Obtain a Nutrition Facts Panel
The best way to obtain the mandatory nutrient information for your product is to use an FDA-compliant online nutrition analysis software.This way, all you have to do is input your recipe and the required nutritional values will be instantly generated. Your values are then automatically filled into an FDA-compliant nutrition facts panel. If you want to add any additional nutrient values to your panel, you can do so easily as well.
Another great thing about using an FDA-compliant nutrition analysis software is that the mandatory nutrients on the panel will automatically update when the new panel comes into effect in 2020. With LabelCalc, for instance, you have the option of selecting the new version of the panel so you can switch over whenever you like. That way, you don’t have to worry about making any manual changes to your nutrition facts panel or even researching what information is required for the new label format. Since all your recipes and nutrition analysis results are kept safe in your online account and the new label template is already there, you can make changes quickly and easily.
Hopefully, you now understand what your nutrition facts panel must list, but additional questions may still arise. If this happens, consider reaching out to an expert label consultant. They will be able to help with all your labeling needs, answer questions, or even complete the nutrition analysis for you. After all, they understand how difficult it can be for first-time food manufacturers to navigate the world of FDA guidelines and nutrition facts panels. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software that helps food manufacturers create FDA-compliant nutrition facts panels. For more information, contact us today.