food
science

Nutritional Labeling

With today’s nutritional labeling regulations, food packaging must conform to rigorous standards. To achieve compliance, rtech offers:
• Chemistry assays for mandatory and many voluntary nutrients
• Extensive nutrient database for theoretical labels or recipes
• Regulatory support for nutrient content claims

For a complete list of specific nutrient analyses provided by rtech laboratories please view the price list.

Background
Nutritional analysis using appropriate AOAC methods, as specified in 21CFR 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of Food, supports regulatory compliance of a product label. FDA recommends testing a composite of 12 samples from the same day’s production, with analysis as above. FDA allows for a 20% tolerance on nutrition facts to account for natural variability of food products; unless there are nutrient content claims being made on the package, or the product is fortified with added nutrients (see specifics of regulations on tolerance for compliance at 21CFR 101.9) www.fda.gov

Analysis of Product
A nutrition facts panel is developed by analyzing a finished food product. Approximately one pound of sample is sent to the lab and tested for all of the mandatory nutrients, and any additional nutrients desired. While not always feasible to send 12 samples for a composite, is recommended that several lots or batches be composited to obtain a representative sample. The results are then rounded according to the regulations and serving size requested, and a Nutrition Facts panel is developed from the results. Notes on some of the frequently asked questions and issues sometimes encountered, are listed below.

Are All Tests Necessary?
Each of the tests in the full nutritional analysis, for mandatory and additional voluntary nutrients, are priced individually and outlined in the Nutrition Label Format on our price list. Depending on what type of product sample is being analyzed, some of the tests may be eliminated, if known to be absent. For example, if it is a plant-based product with no animal-derived ingredients, then there would be no cholesterol expected, so customers may choose to skip this test and assume “0”.  In the same respect, products containing no plant material, that are only animal based such as dairy, eggs, or meat, would contain no dietary fiber, so that test could be excluded. It should be noted that analysis of dietary fiber in dairy products sometimes results in unexplainable false positive results.

Fiber Analysis
Another note in regards to dietary fiber, today many plant based fiber ingredients are added to foods such as inulin, cellulose, or polydextrose. Many AOAC test methods exist in order to analyze products containing different fiber ingredients. The method used most commonly at rtech, is AOAC #991-43 which is for total dietary fiber in foods. This method will not fully include fiber additives contained in samples, such as inulin, in its results, therefore other AOAC methods will be required to be performed. Please note if a product being analyzed for fiber contains any fiber additives. Other fiber methods may need to be utilized or subcontracted.

Sugar Analysis
For total sugar analysis, typically the HPLC sugar profile is utilized. This method provides fructose, sucrose, glucose, maltose, and lactose results. In dairy samples it should be noted that at times, galactose present in a sample results in interference in the glucose peak on the chromatogram. In this case it is recommended to also analyze glucose and galactose by our enzymatic method and combine those results with the HPLC sugar profile results for the other sugars.

At times, certain tests can be disregarded or assumed to be “0” for labeling purposes, however often full analysis is a customer requirement. The full analysis takes approximately 10 to 15 business days from the time the sample is received. 
 

Links to References & Guidelines
 
  • Recommended Daily Intakes for Vitamins and Minerals, and Established Amounts for Labeling of Food Components can be accessed here
  • A list of regulations specific to nutrition labeling, ingredient statements, nutrient content claims can be accessed here

 

Menu Labeling

FDA Menu Labeling Regulations affect restaurants - table-service and drive-through, grocery store delis, convenience stores, and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations having the same menu items. Calorie content must be listed on menus and menu boards for all standard menu items. Additional written nutritional information shall be available upon request including calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, and protein. Vending operations with 20 or more vending machines are required to have calories visible on items before purchase, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The menu labeling compliance date is May 2017.


For more detailed information, see the recently published Small Entity Compliance Guide on Menu Labeling, which helps small businesses to comply with the regulations. Retailers not affected can voluntarily register to become subject to these requirements if desired. For help with this form, call 240-402-2371.

rtech Laboratories provides testing services to help comply with menu nutrition labeling regulations. Forms and instructions are listed below:
 


 

Government Nutrition Labeling Websites 
 



 

Proximates
(ash, moisture,
protein, fat)

Fat
(total, saturated, trans)

Cholesterol

Carbohydrates
Calories
Fiber
Sugars

Vitamins

Minerals

Label Format