The need to display updated information in nutrition science was a large contributor to the new food labeling ruling. Reporting added sugars, changes in fiber declarations and modifications in what and how nutrients are reported are examples of that.
Historically, the nutrients required or permitted were Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron. The new label will now list potassium, calcium, iron and Vitamin D; Vitamin A and Vitamin C will no longer be required but could be included on a voluntary basis. Vitamin A and Vitamin C deficiencies are rare today, while potassium and Vitamin D levels are more likely to be inadequate.
Why Vitamin D?
Of particular interest, the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency appears to be somewhat sudden and rampant. Over the past decade, the percentage of the American population to test adequate for vitamin D declined from roughly 50% to 25%. This means that 3/4 of the American population are found to be deficient in this essential nutrient. Health professionals have a few theories as to why this sudden decrease.
• Skin-cancer prevention campaigns which encourage sunscreen and long sleeves, blocking vitamin D production from the sun.
• Perhaps less and less people are outside between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm; the ideal window for synthesizing Vitamin D. Most would be inside working, and not outside for at least 15-20 minutes with their head, neck and arms exposed to sunlight.
• They also blame possible faulty testing.
Either way, most agree that it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a unique nutrient - it functions as a hormone, helping all body cells to communicate properly. As such, the health effects of vitamin D are varied and include:
• The softening and weakening of bones.
• One contributing factor to depression.
• It’s been found to play a role in heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
• It can also effect an individual’s immunity and has been linked to some autoimmune diseases.
It’s quite possible that current research has only scratched the surface of the functions of Vitamin D and possible adverse effects of deficiency.
It’s a fairly easy and routine blood test and levels should be tested prior to supplementation. Proper dosage for deficiencies are based on current levels and are aimed to restore the nutrient to the ideal range without overdoing it, which is quite possible since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is stored easily by the body and not eliminated in the urine like water soluble vitamins (such as B vitamins or Vitamin C).
Where does Vitamin D come from?
There are three ways we get vitamin D:
• The body makes Vitamin D through sunlight which is the primary way we keep adequate blood levels. Just 15-20 minutes in the sun will make the equivalent of 20,000 IU taken orally.
• We can also get it through supplementation, but the body will need to convert supplements to the active form called “calcitriol”.
• A small amount may come from food. However, food sources of Vitamin D are limited and include fortified dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified non-dairy products (fortified almond milk or soy milk, for example), salmon, mackerel, tuna and egg yolks. Again, the type of vitamin D in food or fortified products will need to be converted to the active form.
Food labeling controversy
This has led many to question if Vitamin D really belongs on the nutrition facts label. Many health professionals feel it could lead consumers to believe that food is an adequate source of
Vitamin D when what they really need is more sun. Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of “Food Politics” has stated: “Vitamin D is not a vitamin; it is a hormone synthesized by the action of sunlight on skin. For this reason alone, it does not belong on the food label.” (1)
However, Vitamin D researcher Michael Holick, MD, PhD at Boston University Medical Center disagrees. While he recognizes the effectiveness of the sun, he also acknowledges the efficacy of Vitamin D supplementation and food fortification without the side effects of UV sun exposure. (1)
The effectiveness of food fortification on Vitamin D status is well documented, the best example being the milk fortification program implemented in the United States in the 1930s to combat rickets (softening and weakening of bones in children), which was then a major public health problem. Since then, almost all of the U.S. milk supply is voluntarily fortified with Vitamin D and fortified prodcuts are the biggest food contributor of the vitamin to the American diet. (2)
The bottom line
While it might be met with controversy, Vitamin D reporting will be required on the new food label. We at RL Foods can help food companies calculate and display the new changes to the nutrition facts label as well as any accompanying nutrient content claims on the front of the package.
So you have created a barbeque sauce that your family and friends simply can’t live without and you want to share it with the world, while turning a robust profit of course. You want to move forward, take the next steps, make change and be your own boss. But how do you get started?
Well, one of the things you will eventually need to do is to have nutritional analysis performed on your product and will need nutrition labels as well. So you start Googling nutrition labels and you end up on the end of the line with one of our team members.
Welcome, we are so glad that you called, and we are ready to help you with what you will need to prepare for a data based analysis. We will provide you with a recipe template to be filled out in full.
The following Q&A’s will provide you with step by step instructions as to how to fill out our recipe template and expedite the process.
How do I prepare my recipe?
You will need to provide your recipe using amounts in grams, ounces, percentages, or household measurements. Up until now you may have varied the amount of a certain ingredient but will need to maintain consistency moving forward when providing the nutrition facts label on your product to maintain the integrity of the information expressed on that label. In short, you will need to standardize your recipe.
How will I determine the Serving Size for my product?
A Serving Size is the amount of a food or beverage that one would consume in an eating occasion. The FDA has taken the guess work out of it and has provided this information for you to follow. You may use the RACC (Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed) to find the serving size for a particular product. The serving size is made up of two parts: a “household measure term” followed by its metric equivalent.
For example: ¼ c cup (60g).
How will I determine the Servings per Container for my product?
The number of Servings per Container is determined by taking the total Net Weight of your product divided by one Serving Size.
NET WT 8oz (227g)
Serving Size 2 Tbsp (32g)
227g / 32g = 6g
We will utilize rounding rules set forth by the FDA when determining the final number for Servings per Container.
How do I determine the total weight of my product?
You will need to use a scale that provides grams or ounces for foods or mL or liters for beverages. If you need to use a container to hold your product in, like a mixing bowl, then you will need to first weigh the mixing bowl that you will be using. Once you determine the weight, jot that number down. Now add the product in the bowl and weigh again. Then take that weight and deduct the weight of the mixing bowl.
For example: If the weight of the mixing bowl is 1 oz. and the final weight (mixing bowl + product) is 5oz, then the weight of your product before processing will be 4oz (5oz – 1oz).
What information about the ingredients need to be included?
We require a copy of the nutrition facts label, ingredient statement and allergen statement for all processed ingredients used in your recipe, for a couple reasons. To ensure that your analysis is accurate, we load the processed foods used in your recipe into the software. This ensures that your results are specific to your ingredients. We create an ingredient statement for your product and all ingredients and sub ingredients will be listed in descending order by weight.
What is Percent Moisture in final product and why do I need to provide that information when completing my recipe template?
Some foods lose moisture when cooked or baked, and this is called moisture loss. The loss of moisture will affect the nutritional values retained in your final product. Take the weight of your product before cooking then take the weight after cooking.
For example, if you have 758g of dough and the final weight of the baked product is 672g, you know you've lost 11g of moisture.
758g (Initial weight before processing)
672g (Final weight after processing)
86g (moisture loss)
86g /758g = 11% of moisture loss in final product
100% - % = 89% moisture in final product
It’s tough getting started and it can feel a little intimidating. But by reading and understanding what you will need to prepare for a data based analysis it should help ease any uncertainty you may have. You are not alone, we get questions like the ones above every single day. Call us 7 days-a-week at: 877-753-6631. We are here to help you!
For anyone who has ever gotten food poisoning from either expired or contaminated meat knows that it not only can ruin a good meal but could potentially ruin you for a couple of days after as well. As a mother, I feel the added responsibility to select food that is safe for my family and want to trust that it is. It’s important that we as consumers understand what date the food we are going to purchase expires on, or if it’s at risk of contamination.
Expiration dates on packages can be a great way to reduce the risk of eating or purchasing food that is past the shelf life date. This has been effective for the most part as long as the date is clearly visible on the package.
Heaven forbid I forget my reading glasses when going to the market. If you are like me, blind as a bat without them, you need all the help you can get when trying to decipher the teeny tiny, not to mention illegible expiration date printed on the most indiscriminate part of the package. As the frustration mounts, the negotiating and head tilting begins….hmmm looks like it could be a 6 or an 8. No, no it is definitely a 5, yeah a 5 or no definitely a 6, you hope.
Technology and innovation to the rescue!
In a recent article from Food Dive, we are introduced to some very cool and innovative ‘expiration date’ labeling initiatives. Here are some of them…
Insignia Technologies has designed a color changing label that displays how much time is left on a product before it spoils. The benefit of this type of label is that retailers will be able to tell what products need to be placed for sale and what products need to be thrown away. The consumer would also be able to determine if they want to purchase the product knowing shelf life date is close to the purchase date and that they must eat sooner than later.
Another creative label is what researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada are working on, they call this a smart label. This label is time sensitive and would have the ability to change color when it detects E. coli, salmonella or listeria. We have been conditioned and have become a color coded society. We know that red means stop, green means go, and for the 40 and up crowd blue light means “big sale”. I think you get the point.
Why not apply this way of conditioned response to food safety as well? The benefit for using this type of label would be to warn the consumer of contamination. Also the smart label would be placed on the food during the entire production phase so this would help in locating where and when contamination transpired. This would help the manufacturer reduce the chances of selling a contaminated product.
Also, a designer out of London has developed a label that spoils or goes bad with the product named Bump Mark. The label is filled with gelatin, an animal based protein, and as the meat decays the gelatin begins to soften. The consumer will be able to tell the quality of the meat by just rubbing his/her finger across the label.
So you see once again “necessity is the mother of invention.” New technology and innovative ideas can help make the expiration dates on foods easier to understand and help stores to remove expried product from their shelves…and this mother is grateful.
Recipe Database versus Lab Nutrition Analysis There are two methods used to get Nutrition Facts Labels, they are either Database Software Analysis or Laboratory Analysis. Most foods can be analyzed for their nutrition content by recipe database analysis. Database analysis follows simple chemical principles of entering the specific quantity of each ingredient for a recipe. The software then calculates the nutrient values base on a serving size.
It’s on nearly every product we buy through a retailer: the black and white striped rectangle with a bunch of numbers under it – a UPC code. You see it every day, but do you know what it is? And if you are a start-up food company, do you need to have one on your labels?
Are you thinking about putting a new pet food on the market? Maybe dog bones or cat treats? There is certain criteria that you should be aware of when it comes to the labeling. According to the FDA, “pet food labeling is regulated at two levels. The federal regulations, enforced by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)…some states also enforce their own labeling regulations. Many states have adopted the model pet food regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). ”
FDA regulations include: proper identification of product, net quantity statement (how much is in the container), manufacturers name and address and a proper list of ingredients.
Many states requirements include: product name (governed by four AAFCO rules regarding percentages of named ingredient in the total product), guaranteed analysis, nutritional adequacy statement, feeding directions and a calorie statement – all of which are dictated by the AAFCO.
Other label claim regulations to be aware of are the terms “natural” and “organic”. The AAFCO has developed a definition and guidelines for what types of ingredients can be considered “natural.” There are currently no rules governing the term “organic” but the USDA is currently working on establishing what kind of synthetic additives can be in pet food that is labeled “organic.”
Before you print your labels, know the federal and state laws that you will need to comply with; it could save you from an unnecessary costly reprint.