Nutrient Content Claims
What You Need to Know:
A Nutrient Content Claim is a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient in the food.
This is different than information listed in the Nutrition Information Panel. Any claims made about nutrition outside of the Nutrition Information Panel would be considered Nutrient Content Claims. Some basic requirements:
You can't make claims that could be misleading in any way.
Terms like "low-fat" or "sugar-free" have specific nutritional thresholds.
Most terms related to nutrition content claims are regulated (and the guidelines are below). If a nutrient content claim is not regulated then it does not mean you are allowed to make that claim.
What You Need to Do:
Comply with the guidelines below.
Make sure your label is aligned with formatting guidelines in §101.13. (I have not listed these in detail)
Keep records to verify any nutrient content claims that you make (including test results)
Types of Nutrient Content Claims:
Implied Nutrient Claim
Describes the food or ingredient in a manner that suggests that a nutrient is present or absent in a certain amount. An implied nutrient claim may also suggest that the food may be useful in maintaining a healthy diet.
"high in oat bran"
Expressed Nutrient Claim
An expressed nutrient claim is a direct statement about the level of nutrients in a food.
"contains 100 calories"
High Content Disclosures
Foods that contain an extremely high amount of one or more nutrients per serving must disclose this on the product label if they wish to also make a nutrient content claim.
The rationale is that, if you want to advertise the nutritional benefits of your product, then you must also disclose other nutritional characteristics that may be less desirable.
For example, if a product which is high in calories advertises itself as “low sugar” then it must also disclose that it is not a low calorie food.
The threshold required for making this type of disclosure is:
>13g fat per serving
4.0g of saturated fat
60mg of cholesterol
480mg of sodium
If the reference size for a product is 30g, then you should consider the thresholds above per 50g of that product. This prevents companies from avoiding high-content disclosures by simply using a small reference amount.
These products must have the following statement: "See nutrition information for ___ content" (insert the applicable ingredient). This must be displayed clearly in bold type and no smaller than the "Net Quantity of Contents claim" on the packaging.
This requirement does not apply to the following types of foods:
infant foods or foods for children under 2 yrs
meal products (defined in §101.13 (l))
main dish products (defined in §101.13 (m))
Nutrient Level Statements
You may make a statement about the amount or percentage of a nutrient in a serving. For example "less than 3g of fat per serving". Some conditions apply:
If the statement characterizes the level of the nutrient as low, but the amount is not actually low, then this must be clarified. For example, if you wanted to say "only 10g of fat per serving" then you would have to additionally state "not a low fat food". This is because 10g of fat is not a low amount of fat for a single serving.
Similar to above, if a statement characterizes the level of an ingredient as high but the amount is not actually high, then this must be clarified. For example, You wanted to say, "Contains at least 25mg of protein per serving", then you would have to additionally state "not a significant source of protein" because 25mg is not a significant amount of protein.
If the quantity is not characterized in any way (by using a word like "only", then you may simply state the quantity of the nutrient in the food without any disclaimer. For example, "150 calories" or "4g of fat"
Source Subpart A 101.13 (i)
Relative claims are claims that compare the nutrient level to another reference food. These claims are allowed to use terms such as "light" "reduced" "fewer" "less" and "more". Some considerations when making relative claims:
For claims making "less" "fewer" or "more" claims, you may compare the product to the same product (i.e. potato chips to potato chips) or to different product that is part of the same category (i.e. orange juice as a reference for vitamin C tablets).
You can also compare to a similar product produced by another brand. If you are comparing to another brand, that brand must be widely available.
For claims using the words "light" "added" "reduced" "extra" "plus" "fortified" or "enriched", you must compare similar food products (i.e. your orange juice to another orange juice product)
For claims using the word "light" or any other claims, the referenced food must represent the general category of products in that claim. In other words, if you are comparing to a specific brand of lemonade, the brand you are comparing to should be nutritionally representative of lemonades overall.
The claim include a comparison of the nutrient amounts in both products in quantitative, clear and concise language.
You cannot make a relative claim for lower levels of a nutrient in your product if the referenced product itself meets the requirement for a "low" claim (i.e. 3g of fat or less per serving).
Vitamin and Mineral Claims
You may make claims about vitamin or mineral contents that reference the reference daily intake (RDI) without any special disclaimers. For example "Contains 100% Vitamin C " is allowed.
If you wish to make a claim for a vitamin or mineral content for which there is no reference daily intake (i.e. recommended daily value), you may do so.
Nutrient content claims must be less than 2x the size of the statement of identity (common name of the product) and must be in a prominent and clear type.
Specific Nutrient Content Claim Requirements
Calorie Content Claims (i.e. "Calorie-free" "low calorie")
You may make nutrient content claims about the calorie contents of food.
"Calorie Free" Claims
For terms such as "calorie free", no calories" "zero calories",
The foods must contain less than 5 calories per typical serving amount.
If the food naturally meets this condition without any special processing, then this must be described. For example "cider vinegar, a calorie-free-food"
"Low Calorie" Claims
For the terms "low calorie" "few calories" or "low source of calories",
The food must have a serving size of >30grams and has fewer than 40 calories per serving. The reasoning here is that you can't make the portion size very small and then claim the product has "low calories per serving".
If the food naturally meets this condition without any special processing, then this must be described. For example "celery, a low-calorie-food"
"Reduced Calorie" Claims
For the terms "reduced calorie" or "fewer calories" or "lower calories",
The food must contains at least 25% fewer calories than the reference food (this is a relative claim)
This claim cannot be made if the referenced product meets the definition for "low calorie"
Sugar Content Claims
Use of the terms "sugar free" "no sugar" "zero sugar" is allowed if:
The product contains less than 0.5g of sugar per serving
The product contains no ingredient that is a sugar or contains sugars, unless this is explained in the ingredients section
It either is labeled as "low calorie"/"reduced calorie" or "not a reduced calorie food"/"not for weight control". The rationale here is that consumers expect sugar-free foods to be low calorie, so this must be specified.
"No Added Sugar" Claims
"No Added Sugar" claims are allowed if:
No sugars have been added in processing or production.
No ingredients contains added sugars (such as jam or fruit juice)
The food it resembles and which it is substituting as a "no added sugar alternative" typically contains added sugars.
The product bears a statement that the food is not "low calorie" or calorie reduced" unless the product meets that requirements. Again, the rationale here is that consumers expect added-sugar-free foods to be low calorie, so this must be clarified if it is not true.
"Reduced Sugar" "Lower Sugar" Claims
The food must contains at least 25% less sugar than the reference food (this is a relative claim)
Fiber Content Claims
If you make a fiber claim, then you must also disclose the level of fat in a serving, unless the product meets the definition of a low fat food (see below)
See Subpart A -- 101.54 (d) for more details
Specific Wording Requirements
"Low" or "Free" Claims:
You may only use the terms "low" or "free" (i.e. "fat free" or "low sodium") when you have specifically processed the food to lower the amount of that nutrient or you not included that nutrient in the formulation of the food
A claim of "low sodium potato chips" may be achieved by not adding salt to the chips, since potato chips typically contain salt
A claim of "Fat-free peanut butter" may be achieved by a process that removes fat from the peanut butter.
If the product inherently lacks a nutrient and it has not been specifically processed to remove that nutrient, then you must clarify that the claim refers to all foods of that type and not simply to your particular product.
"High" or "Rich in" Claims:
You may use these terms if the food contains 20% or more of the Daily-Recommended-Value (DRV) in the amount that is typically consumed.
If the product is a "meal product" containing multiple foods, then you must identify which food is the subject of this claim (i.e. the serving of cauliflower in this product is high in vitamin C)
See Subpart A -- 101.54 (b) for more details
"Good Source" or "Contains"or "Provides" Claims
You may use the terms "good source" "contains" or "provides" if the food contains 10-19% of the Daily-Recommended-Value (DRV) in the amount that is typically consumed.
If the product is a "meal product" containing multiple foods, then you must identify which food is the subject of this claim (i.e. the serving of yams in this product is a 'good source' of fiber)
See Subpart A -- 101.54 (c) for more details
"More" or "Added" or "Extra" Claims
Relative Claims that contain the words "more", "fortified", "enriched", "added", "extra", and "plus" may be used to describe the following:
vitamins or mineral content
dietary fiber content
The product of the claim must have >10% more of the recommended intake than the referenced product in the claim. All other requirements for relative claims apply (see above).
"High Potency" Claims
When Used to Describe Vitamins & Minerals:This claim may be used to describe vitamins and minerals where the product contains 100% or more of the recommended daily intake for that vitamin or mineral.
For example "Contains botanical X with high-potency vitamin C")
When Used to Describe a Product: "High Potency" claims may be used to describe a product if it contains 100% or more of the daily intake for 2/3 of the vitamins and minerals listed in the RDI which are present at 2% or more in the product.
"Light" or "Lite" Claims
These claims may be made if one of the following criteria are met:
The food gets 50% or more of its calories from fat and its fat content is reduced by 50% or more as compared to a similarly reference food (see relative claims).
The food derives less than 50% of its calories from fat and the number of calories is reduced by 1/3 when compared to a reference food (see relative claims).
The food's fat content is reduced by 50% or more when compared to a referenced food (see relative claims).
You may make a claim about the antioxidant nutrients present in a food insofar as:
A recommended daily intake (RDI) has been established for each of the nutrients that are the basis for the claim.
The nutrients subject to the claim have recognized, scientific antioxidant activity.
The level of each nutrient in the claim must be high enough to qualify for either a "more" "good source of" or "high" claim.
The specific nutrients which are the basis for the antioxidant claim must be referenced where the claim is made and again where that specific nutrient is listed.
Your product may be subject to additional regulations if you produce one of the following foods.
"main dish products"