Nutrition Information

So I did a little more checking about those nutrition information labels on products and what they actually mean. So, the FDA is the one that monitors and tracks them. The producing company or group of companies first submits a database to the FDA every year with nutrient information. This basically means the manufacturer is responsible for taking a number of sample packaged products and analyzing them in a lab to make these databases, and from that data, an average is taken for the labeling. As noted here, “the FDA’s continuing policy since the 1970s assigns the manufacturer the responsibility for assuring the validity of a product label’s stated nutrient values. Accordingly, the source of the data used to calculate nutrition label values is the prerogative of the manufacturer, but FDA’s policy recommends that the nutrient values for labeling be based on product composition, as determined by laboratory analysis of each nutrient.” So the actual carrying out of the sampling is left to the discretion of the
producer, though the FDA requires yearly review of the data base itself and those specific results that make up the label’s average.

And when I say ‘average’, I mean that only in the most broad sense. As you can see from this document, there are specific label requirements for each piece of nutrition info. For example, for calories, any number below 50 should be rounded to the nearest 5 and any number above 50 should be rounded tot he nearest 10 (ie, 47 calories should read ’45 calories’ on a label, but 56 calories should read ’60 calories’. I have no idea what 55 calories should read.) So that means even the average is not so specific.

Makes me feel a little better about my gyminee bummage.


  1. e'bess said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    You know, I have never thought about where those nutrition labels come from, silly girl. And now thanks to your sleuthing, I am going to put less stock in their accuracy. Not that I really have any clue what “50 calories per serving” means in relation to anything else, but now I’m not going to worry about it.

    Also, I’m no member of TEAL, but I believe “form” in your first paragraph should be “from”.

  2. sedgehammer said,

    February 3, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Oh crap. I’m losing my touch!

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