Last week, New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced that plastic foam containers will be banned in the city beginning July 1st of this year. This includes expanded polystyrene cups or containers used in retail, restaurant take out or other food manufacturers.
The reason behind this law is mainly environmental impact. It is estimated that the city will reduce its polystyrene materials in waste by 30,000 tons. Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle have already banned similar food containers.
This is an initiative that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has started before the end of his last term. In December 2013, city council passed a law to ban any takeout containers that were not recyclable. With this new law, the type of non-recyclable container has been established.
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!
The end of 2014 brought a final ruling from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on new labeling requirements for meat and poultry that have added solutions, such as salt and water.
The new labeling regulations will require disclosing the percentage of added solution and the ingredients in the solution to be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. The rule will go into effect January 1, 2016.
FSIS originally announced these proposed requirements back in July 2011, after many petitions from the public and consumer groups. The concerns were not only about misleading consumers on the actual weight of the meat or poultry verses the added solution, but also health risks.
The added salty solutions has been reported as much as “180 mg of sodium per serving…four times the amount of sodium in truly natural single-ingredient chicken that has not been pumped full of saltwater,” as reported by the Truthful Labeling Coalition in 2010.
It is well known that high levels of sodium is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and a higher risk of strokes. The new labeling will give consumers a better understanding of what they will be purchasing so that they can make more informed, healthier decisions.
The FDA has issued their final ruling on Menu and Vending Machine labeling requirements. In part 1 of our blogs on this topic, we answer some of your important questions about labeling requirements for menu items in restaurants and similar retail food establishments. In this blog, part 2, we will review the new requirements for calorie labeling on foods in vending machines.
Let’s take a look at some important questions that many vending machine operators might be asking….
What vending machine operators need to comply?
People who own or operate 20 or more vending machines would be “covered” under this ruling and would need to comply.
Some general examples of the definition of “vending machine” could be vending machines that sell prepackaged snacks and beverages, beverage dispensers, prepared foods from a turnstile vending machine, or bulk food machines that dispense a handful of candy or peanuts.
I own less than 20 vending machines and so am not covered, can I still comply?
Yes, vending machine operators who are not covered by this ruling may voluntarily register with the FDA.
What type of vending machine might NOT be covered and are exempt?
Machines that dispense food items as part of a game, are one example of vending machines that are not covered by these requirements.
What other foods may be exempt or NOT covered by these requirements?
If a purchaser can view the nutrition facts panel clearly on the food item, without any obstruction, before they purchase – then additional labeling would not be required for that food item. Also, if there is nutrition information available and able to be viewed on the food item (such as, calories on the front-of-label), then no further calorie labeling would be required. (Further clarificaiton on FOP requirements below.)
I have FOP labeling that shows calories, are these foods exempt?
Perhaps they would be exempt, but there are other requirements for FOP (front-of-package) labeling in order to exempt the food. Ask yourself these questions:
Are the calories that are shown for the entire item? (Not broken up into serving sizes, ie: 2 servings per container.)
Is the type size of the calories at least 50% of the largest type size on the label?
Do the calories have sufficient contrasting compared to the rest of the label, so the purchase can clearly distinguish it?
If you can answer yes to all three questions, then that food item may be exempt from further labeling.
I do NOT have the calories or a nutrition facts label clearly displayed on my food item inside my vending machines. Where do I need to display it?
A sign must be displayed inside, on or just adjacent to the vending machine that shows the total number of calories for the item.
When the sign is inside or on the vending machine, the declaration must be in a type size no smaller than the smallest of either the name of the food on the machine (not the food label), selection number, or price of the food. It must also be:
* Displayed with the same prominence, meaning the same color, or a color at least as conspicuous, as the color of the name or price of the food or selection number; and
* Set against the same contrasting background, or a background at least as contrasting as the background used for the item it is in close proximity to
When the sign is adjacent to the vending machine, the declaration must be:
* in a type size large enough to render it likely to be read and understood by the consumer under customary conditions of purchase and use, and
* in a type that is all black or one color on a white or other neutral background that contrasts with the type color
When do I need to comply by?
Vending machine operators or owners that are covered by this ruling need to comply by December 1st, 2016. The initial proposal by the FDA was a one year deadline; however, this has been extended to two years in their final ruling.
How will the FDA enforce these regulations?
The FDA will use the contact information that is required to show on the vending machine, to contact the owners or operators if they fail to comply.
How do I get the calorie information that is needed?
If a nutrition facts panel is NOT readily available, then you might want to check with the manufacturer of the food item. They may have the analysis already done. Otherwise, there are two methods that can determine a food item’s calories: data-base analysis and laboratory testing.
For more information on these two methods, please give us a call at 877-753—6631.
Last week, the FDA announced their final rulings on the much anticipated Restaurant Menu and Vending Machine Labeling Requirements. The rulings will require calories to be shown on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and vending machines.
The FDA has issued these rulings in an effort to fight obesity. Nearly two-thirds of adults and one third of children are overweight or obese. Calories are the major contributor to weight gain. The FDA estimates that about a third of the total amount of calories consumed come from outside the home. It is expected that implementing these new food labeling laws will help consumers make better, more informed decisions about what they are eating.
In this article we will be answering your questions on the new Menu labeling requirements for Restaurants and other retail food establishments.
Who does this menu labeling rule apply to?
The FDA refers to the establishments needing to comply as being ‘covered’ by this rule. Here is the criteria that describes the covered establishments:
A restaurant or similar retail food establishment that offers “restaurant-type food” and is part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.
More information on the definitions of “restaurant –type foods and “chain of 20 or more locations” is below…
What are restaurant-type foods?
The FDA defines “restaurant-type foods” as foods that are usually eaten on the premises, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location. Foods that would NOT be considered “restaurant-type foods” would be grocery type items that would normally be stored to be consumed later.
The FDA provides a helpful table that lists what would generally be defined as “restaurant-type foods.” You may find this table helpful if you are trying to determine whether or not your establishment sells “restaurant-type foods.”
What defines a chain of 20 or more…?
“Locations” means a fixed position or site. This ruling would not apply to airlines, trains or busses because they do not stay in one spot.
“Doing business under the same name” means they would share the same name as other establishments in the chain (regardless of individual franchises).
“Offering for sale substantially the same menu items” means “offering for sale a significant proportion of menu items that use the same general recipe and are prepared in substantially the same way with substantially the same food components, even if the name of the menu item varies.”
Other than restaurants, who else is covered under this ruling and needs to comply?
This ruling also applies to other food services other than restaurants. Here are some examples the FDA gives: bakeries, cafeterias, coffee shops, convenience stores, delicatessens, ice cream shops, mall cookie counters, pizza take-out, grocery stores that sell deli sandwiches from a menu board, retail confectionary stores, superstores, and food services inside amusement parks, bowling alleys, and movie theatres.
When do you need to comply by?
Restaurants or similar retail food establishments that are covered, need to comply by December 1, 2015.
Who does is NOT apply to or is NOT covered?
This ruling does not apply to schools. Other examples of non-covered entities are: transportation carriers (like airplanes), food trucks or ice cream trucks.
If my establishment is NOT covered under this ruling, can I still comply?
Yes, “restaurants and similar retail food establishments” that are not covered, or required to comply because they are not part of a chain of 20 or more – for example, may still voluntarily register under the federal government and comply. These restaurants would still remain subject to local and state nutrition labeling laws; however, registering under this ruling would preempt them from local and state menu labeling laws.
If I am already complying with my local, state menu labeling requirements, do I need to comply to this?
If your establishment is ‘covered’ under this ruling; then YES, you would have to comply with these federal regulations.
Do the menu labeling requirements apply to all of my food items?
Only “standard menu items” are required to comply with the food labeling rules. “Standard menu items” are “restaurant-type foods” that are routinely included on menu and menu boards or routinely offered as a self-service food or food on display.
Some foods that would NOT be considered “standard menu items” are: condiments, daily specials, custom orders, or market test foods. Also, the rule does not include liquor kept behind a bar which is used to make drinks.
Are alcoholic beverages covered under this ruling and need to comply?
Yes, if it is a standard menu item listed in a menu or menu board. Some beers and wines may be clumped together in ranges - in some instances. However, bottles of alcohol kept behind a bar, which are used to make drinks, are not covered under this ruling.
What information MUST be provided for my menu items?
The FDA states, “chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will provide consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner for the foods they eat and buy for their families.”
There are three items that must be displayed on menus or menu boards. They are:
Number of Calories per menu item
Succinct statement of daily caloric intake: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary”
“Additional nutrition information available upon request” must be stated, as well
For self-service foods, or foods on display that are standard menu items, the calories must be declared on signs adjacent to the foods for sale.
How should the “additional nutrition information” be displayed?
The additional nutrition information must be available on the premises and should include: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein.
There are different ways this information can be displayed, as long as it is made available on the premises. (ie: sign, brochure, counter card, electronic device, menu)
What is considered a “menu or menu board?”
The FDA defines “menus and menu boards” as “the primary writing of the covered establishment from which a customer makes an order selection.” Some examples of these are: breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus; dessert menus; beverage menus; children’s menus; take out menus; online menus; drive through window menu board; menu board behind a counter.
Examples of items that would NOT be covered are a billboard, tray liner, or promotional items such as a coupon.
What is the layout for declaring the calories on menu boards?
The number of calories should be stated per menu item or per serving for multiple serving items that are usually offered for sale in discrete units – providing the serving size and number of servings.
The calories should be placed as stated by the FDA:
next to the name or the price of the associated standard menu item
in a type size no smaller than that of the name or the price of the associated standard menu item, whichever is smaller
in the same color, or a color at least as conspicuous as that used for the name of the associated standard menu item
with the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for the name of the associated standard menu item
Self-service foods and foods on display must declare calories “per displayed food item” as it is offered for sale (ie: a muffin, or slice of pizza, a bagel) and not based on a different amount. In other words, a large muffin cannot be put into 2 servings. The calories must be displayed on a sign adjacent to and clearly associated with the food item. For example, on the sneeze guard.
How should the succinct statement be posted?
The succinct statement should say, “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary” and should be placed as stated by the FDA below:
prominently and in a clear and conspicuous manner
in a type size no smaller than that of any calorie declaration appearing on the same menu or menu board
in the same color or in a color at least as conspicuous as that used for the calorie declarations
with the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for the calorie declarations
For children’s menus, the rule allows for the following succinct statements:
"1,200 to 1,400 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice for children ages 4 to 8 years, but calorie needs vary."
"1,200 to 1,400 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice for children ages 4 to 8 years and 1,400 to 2,000 calories a day for children 9 to 13 years, but calorie needs vary."
How can I get the nutrition information that is required?
First, the menu item’s recipe and serving size should be standardized and the covered establishment must take “reasonable steps to ensure the method of preparation and amount of standard menu item adheres to the factors on which the nutrient values were determined.” This means to not only use the same recipe but also make sure your portions are the same that you used to determine the nutritional information. Be consistent.
If there is not a nutrition facts label available for the finished menu item, then you will need to get the analysis done. There are two methods used to determine the nutritional value of a food:
Data-base software analysis
Data-base software is a less expensive method, compared to lab analysis, and only takes 1 to 2 business days to complete. Whereas, lab analysis can take up to 25 business days.
Not all menu items would need lab analysis. In fact, the majority of food items can be analyzed through the data-base using your detailed recipe.
Wondering if your recipes can use the data-base analysis? It would probably be best if you gave us a call. We would be happy to tell you more. Call us 7 days a week at: 877-753-6631.