Nutrition Information Based On Nlea

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NLEA focused on two key areas of food-product labels in the area of nutrition: how the nutrition information should be presented, and how claims should be regulated. Although nutrition information is required for most food labels, claims are optional, but making them may trigger additional requirements. Claims must be only those defined by NLEA regulations.

Nutrition Facts

According to the regulations, the nutritional values in the Nutrition Facts box are to be for the food "as packaged," that is, the product that is in the package. The regulations allow for providing nutritional values "as prepared," but this is optional.

FDA considered several approaches to how food-product labels should provide nutrition information. The final regulations followed NLEA requirements to establish what information must appear and prescribed the Nutrition Facts box as the exact format.

Figure 2 shows the Nutrition Facts box for the food label as it appears in FDA's regulations, with all the required details. This is known as the standard format.

Figure 3 is from a presentation by FDA and explains some of the considerations used to develop the Nutrition Facts box. The features were designed to help consumers apply the label information to their own diets.

Figures 2 and 3 show the conversion guide for calories per gram of fat, protein, and carbohydrate at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts box. The August 1993 amendments to the original rules made this optional, so few labels in the market actually carry it.

The serving size for each food product must be based on the established reference amounts using methods specified in the regulations. The purpose is to have consistent serving sizes for similar products, making it easier for consumers to make comparisons. Serving sizes must be expressed both in common household measures, such as teaspoons and cups, and in metric amounts, such as grams or milliliters. The exact amounts of each household measure are specified, for example, 1 teaspoon = 5 mL, 1 tablespoon = 15 mL, and 1 cup = 240 mL. The regulations list reference amounts for more than 120 foods and food categories, typically expressed both as common household measures and as metric amounts that are considered appropriate. It was hoped that providing the information in both forms would be another way to help make serving sizes easier for consumers to understand and use.

Servings per container seems straightforward at first, but it can get complicated in some situations. For example, the reference amount for carbonated beverages is 8 fluid ounces, but 12-oz cans are common. The rules require a container that contains up to twice the reference amount to be considered 1 serving. It can get even more complicated for products sold in large discrete units, such as pies or cakes of different sizes, in which the size of a common fraction of the unit—a slice, for example—may not match the official reference amount exactly. In such cases, serv-

Figure 1. Typical placement of required label information on a package. Source: Réf. 1.

Any Brand CEREAL

Nutrition Facts

-Statement of identity -PDP-

■ Information panel

Net quantity statement

Nutrition Facts


Manufactured by:

Helvetica Regular 8-polnt with 1 point of leading

3 point rule-

8 point Helvetica Black-with 4 points of leading

1/4 point rule centered-between nutrients (2 points leading above and 2 points below)

8 point Helvetica-

Regular with 4 points of leading

8 point Helvetica -

Regular, 4 points of leading with 10 point bullets

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cup (228g) Servings Per Container 2

Amount Per Serving

Calories 260 Calories from Fat 120

% Dally Value'

Total Fat 13g

Saturated Fat 5g

Cholesterol 30mg

Sodium 660mg

Total Carbohydrate 31 g

Dietary Fiber Og

Sugars 5g

Protein 5g

Vitamin A 4%

Vitamin C 2%

Calcium 15%

Iron 4%

' Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:




Total Fat Less than



Sat Fat Less than



Cholesterol Less than



Sodium Less than



Total Carbohydrate



Dietary Fiber


Calories per gram

Franklin Gothic Heavy or Helvetica Black, flush left & flush right, no smaller than 13 point

7 point rule

6 point Helvetica Black

-All labels are enclosed by 1/2 point box rule within 3 points of text measure

-1/4 point rule

-Type below vitamins and minerals (footnotes), is 6 point with 1 point of leading

Figure 2. The new food label (graphic enhancements by FDA). Source: Ref. 1.

ings per container must be expressed in approximate terms—"about 6," for instance.

The nutrients shown in Figures 2 and 3 are those required by the regulations. For labeling purposes, they are divided into two groups: macronutrients, calories through protein (those between the two heaviest lines in the box), and micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals below the lower heavy line.

The regulations define each component and prescribe exactly how the numerical values shown in the nutrition facts box are to be expressed and rounded:

Serving size (common household measure and metric units): Metric units (grams or milliliters) must be rounded to the nearest 0.2 up to 2.0, the nearest 0.5 up to 5.0, and to the nearest whole unit thereafter Calories and calories from fat: 5-cal increments up to 50 cal; 5-cal increments thereafter Total fat and saturated fat: 0.5-g increments up to 5 g; 1-g increments thereafter Cholesterol: 5-mg increments

Sodium: 5-mg increments up to 140 mg; 10-mg increments thereafter

Total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein: nearest whole gram

Sugars: For labeling purposes, sugars are defined as the sum of monosaccharides (e.g., dextrose and fructose) and disaccharides (e.g., sucrose, or table sugar). Percent daily value (DV) is rounded to the nearest 1% DV for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, and dietary fiber. There is no DV for sugars. The % DV for protein is optional and is usually not shown.

Vitamins and minerals: The % DV are rounded to the nearest 2% DV up to 10% DV, the nearest 5% DV from 10 to 50% DV, and the nearest 10% DV thereafter.

FDA expects the label values to be correct within the limits specified in the regulations. Nutrients that occur naturally in foods may vary by as much as 20% from the label value and still be within compliance limits. On the other hand, the amounts of any nutrients that are added must be at least 100% of the value stated on the label.

For example, suppose the label for a flavored milk drink declares "Protein 7 g" for a serving. If the protein is derived only from the milk ingredient, it would be "naturally occurring." The actual amount could be slightly less than 6 g in some individual products, and they would still be in compliance. However, if the product contains any added protein, such as that from soy or sodium caseinate and the label declares "Protein 9 g," the product would be required to contain no less than 9 g per serving.

A food product typically contains significant amounts of a few or several nutrients and smaller or even insignificant amounts of others. The regulations established levels that are considered "nutritionally insignificant" for each nutrient. If a serving of a food product contains less than this nutritionally insignificant amount, it may be declared as 0.

The specific nutritionally insignificant amounts are:

Serving sizes are now more consistent across product lines, are stated in both_

household and metric measures, and reflect the amounts people actually eat.

The list of nutrients cover those most important to the health of today's consumers, most of-

whom need to worry about getting too much of certain nutrients (fat, for example), rather than too few vitamins or minerals, as in the past.

Figure 3. The new food label at a glance. Source: Ref. 2.

Information on calories per gram of fat,_

carbohydrate, and protein is optional.

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