We're not nutritionists or regulators, but we know from experience that you've got to have certain elements on your nutrition labels, and we as label printers need to have everything in order to get the job done right. We print a lot of nutrition labels so we wanted to ensure you had at least this information to get us what we need to get the job done right the first time.
In order to help consumers make educated and informed decisions regarding nutrition and the products they are purchasing, take a look at the components listed below. You will need to make sure they are included on your nutrition labels (according to the guidelines set forth by nutrition label requirements)
The grams of protein in a serving is shown to the nearest gram unless it is less than one gram (and will be labeled as such). A serving that has less than 0.5 grams of protein can be classified as having zero grams of protein.
The total amount of carbohydrates in a product is actually the sum of sugar, starches and dietary fiber. The total carbs must be listed on custom nutrition labels unless there is less than one gram (listed as “contains less than one gram”) or less than 0.5 grams per serving (listed as zero grams).
Trans fat is considered to be the worst of the “bad fats” so it is required to be listed separately by the FDA. They increase LDL cholesterol levels (“bad cholesterol”) but they also lower HDL cholesterol levels (“good cholesterol”). Much like total fat and saturated fat, less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving means it can be listed as zero on the label (according to nutrition label requirements).
Sugars are considered to be all of the free mono and disaccharides (including glucose, lactose and maltose) in a serving. The amount of sugar must be listed in grams unless it has less than one gram (listed as “contains less than one gram”). Added sugars will be listed below the line for Total Sugars while a listing of sugar content is not necessary if the phrase “not a significant source of sugars” is placed at the bottom of the table of nutrition facts.
Calories are the unit that measures the energy in food and they are expressed in two ways. Servings that have 50 calories or less are expressed in increments of 5 while servings with over 50 calories are shown in increments of 10. All of the calories must be calculated and added together before they are rounded and listed on the label.
This might be the most important part of the nutrition label as the nutrition information is based on the serving size. In order to make it easier for consumers to compare one product to another, the USDA and UFSDA require the use of standard reference sizes (tablespoons, teaspoons, fluid ounces, etc.) to express the serving size (followed by the metric equivalents expressed in grams or milliliters).
The total fat is actually the total grams of fat per serving. The FDA recommends the use of the AOAC Official Method of Analysis 996.06 to determine the amount of fat per serving. FYI, if the total fat is less than 0.5 grams per serving, it can be listed as zero on the nutrition label.
This is the sum total of all fatty acids that do not contain double bonds. Even though it falls under the heading of “total fat”, the saturated fat is listed on its own as they are viewed as being “bad fats” that raise LDL cholesterol levels.
Dietary fiber supports the overall digestive health of the body as it is the only carbohydrate the body cannot digest. It is expressed in grams (unless there is less than one gram which means it can be listed as “contains less than one gram”). A serving of less than 0.5 grams of dietary fiber means it can be listed as zero. The content does not have to be listed if the phrase “not a significant amount of dietary fiber” is listed at the bottom of the table.
Sodium helps to contain muscle contractions and fluid balance but too much of it can cause high blood pressure, a stroke or heart disease. Sodium is listed in milligrams per serving and can be listed as zero if there is less than 5 milligrams present. It is expressed in 5 milligram increments when there is 5-140mg present and in increments of 10 for more than 140mg per serving.
Vitamins and minerals work to keep the body healthy and the daily value is expressed in 2% increments (if the amount is between 2%-10%). The increments are in 5% between 10%-50% and 10% increments if the daily value is above 50%. Vitamins A and C are not required to be listed while Vitamin D and potassium must be listed on the label. Minerals, calcium and iron must also be listed in exact amounts along with the percentage of their daily value. If the daily value is less than 2%, it can be listed as zero or the label can say there is less than 2% if there is not a significant source in the product.
Cholesterol is a substance that is similar to fat in that it is needed to build cells but too much cholesterol can damage the arteries. Cholesterol listings on nutrition labels are listed in milligrams and rounded in 5 milligram increments. Both LDL and HDL cholesterol are included on the label. Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol per serving can be listed as zero on the label or replaced with the statement, “Not a significant source of cholesterol”. If the product has 2-5 milligrams of cholesterol per serving, the content can be listed as “less than 5 miligrams”.
As long as you include the components listed above on your nutrition labels, you will be in line with nutrition label requirements. While there are a number of optional nutrients that can be included as well, that decision is up to the individual manufacturer of the product and check with the current regulators as requirements may change overtime.
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