Frequently Asked Questions

Find The Answers You Need

How do I know if I will need laboratory analysis to order a Nutrition label?

Because of their complex nature, these foods commonly require laboratory analysis:

  • Fermented products, such as beer or wine
  • Complex recipes that may be brined or marinated, such as a beef jerky
  • Brewed products, such as coffee or tea

Please contact us to discuss your food product. We can determine if your product will need laboratory testing.

Does the price of $295 for Nutrition Labels involve lab testing?

No. This service is for nutrition labels made using data-based analysis– no food samples will need to be sent to a lab for this service. Most food recipes can be analyzed through our data-based software. Data-based software analysis costs much less and is less time consuming compared to lab analysis; however, lab testing is necessary in some cases (for more information, see “How do I know if I will need laboratory analysis to order a Nutrition label?”).

Why do I need to provide nutrition information for processed foods used in my recipe?

For all processed foods used in your recipe, you will need to provide a copy of the nutrition facts label, ingredient statement, and allergen statement. This will ensure that your analysis is accurate and that the final nutritional information reflects the nutritional value imparted by each of your particular ingredients, since we will load the specific nutritional information from the your recipe’s processed foods into our nutritional analysis software. In addition, FDA labeling requirements mandate that we list your final ingredient statement in descending order by percent weight; this is only possible if we have access to the ingredient statement of each of your individual ingredients.

Please note that “processed foods” includes almost every food apart from raw produce, pure meat, water, and some pure ingredients such as salt, pure oils, etc. When submitting your recipe, please check the labels of every ingredient you use. Even some foods that might not be considered “processed” may have additional ingredients that will need to be listed in your final label (e.g., sliced apples, which may have added contain ascorbic acid). Additionally, many ingredients that are often considered basic or pure may actually have sub-ingredients. Some examples include brown sugar (ingredients: sugar and molasses), all-purpose flour (which contains several added vitamins and minerals), or vinegar (ingredients: vinegar, water).

If my food product can be analyzed through the database software, what information do I need to give you to order a Nutrition Facts Label?

You will need to provide us with:

  • Your recipe, including a complete list of ingredients and sub-ingredients with the amount of each ingredient and sub-ingredient in grams, ounces, percentages, or Household Measurements (for example, ½ cup white sugar, 60g water, etc.)
  • A copy of the Nutrition Facts Label, Ingredient Statement, and Allergen Statement of any processed food ingredient (for example, enriched flours, canned tomatoes, etc.)
  • The number of servings per recipe, the Serving Size in grams or ounces (for food) or milliliters (for beverages and liquids), and the number of Servings per Container (don’t worry – if you don’t know what these amounts should be, we can help you determine the correct amounts)
  • For cooked or baked foods: the percent moisture lost during cooking, or the weight of your product before and after cooking (for more details, refer to “How do I determine the percent of moisture in my finished product lost during cooking or baking?”)

How do I determine the percent moisture lost during cooking or baking?

To determine the percent moisture lost, begin by performing the following steps:

  • First, weigh your product before cooking and record this weight.
  • After cooking, weigh the product again. Record this weight as well.
  • Lastly, subtract the weight of the cooked product (from step 2) from the weight of the product before cooking (from step 1). This will give you the amount of moisture lost during cooking.

For example, if you have 18g of dough before baking and the final weight of the product after baking is 13g, your moisture loss is18g-13g=5g.

To convert the amount of moisture lost to the percent of moisture lost, divide the weight of moisture lost (from step 3 above) by the original weight of the product before cooking (from step 1 above).

For example, 5g moisture lost/18g dough=28% moisture loss.

Why do I need to know the moisture loss, or the weight of my food product before and after cooking?

The amount of moisture that is lost will affect the nutritional values retained in your final product. The weight of your food product before and after cooking can be used to determine the moisture loss.

How do I weigh my food product or ingredients?

You will need to use a scale that provides weight in grams or ounces.

To find the weight of a product that must be weighed in a container (for example, salad dressing), you will need to perform the following steps:

  • First, you will need to weigh the empty container that you will be using and record that weight.
  • Next, add your product to the container, and record the total weight of the container with your product inside.
  • Then, subtract the weight of the empty container (from step 1) from the weight of the container with the product inside (from step 2). This will give you the weight of the product itself, without the container.

For example: If the weight of the bowl or container in which you weight your food is 0.5 ounces, and the total weight of your food product plus the container is 4 oz., then the weight of your product itself will be 4 oz-0.5 oz=3.5 oz

How do I determine the number of Servings per Container?

To determine the number of Servings per Container, divide the total Net Weight of your product by the weight of one Serving Size. For example:

Net Weight: 16oz (454g)
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp (33g)
454g / 33g = 13.75 servings
Round 13.75 up to 14
Servings: about 14

Please note: there are rounding rules established by the FDA. We will help determine the correct number of Servings per Container for your label.

What is a Serving Size and how do I determine the Serving Size for my recipe?

The Serving Size is the amount of a food or beverage that one would typically consume in one sitting. The Serving Size is displayed as two parts: a “household measure term” followed by its metric equivalent. For example, an appropriate serving Serving Size could be “2 Tbsp (33g)”, where 2 Tbsp is the household measure and 33g is its metric equivalent.

To find the suggested Serving Size for a particular product, use the FDA’s Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACC) guidelines.

We will help you determine the correct Serving Size for your food or beverage product per the FDA’s RACC.

What is listed in the Ingredient Statement?

All the ingredients in your recipe must be shown, including all sub-ingredients (i.e., the ingredients that make up your ingredients).

The ingredients must be listed in descending order by percent weight. The percent weight of an ingredient is calculated by dividing the weight of an ingredient used in the recipe by the total weight of the recipe.

What allergens, if present, need to be listed in the allergen statement on my label?

There are eight allergens that, if present in the food, must be listed in the allergen statement:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Tree Nuts
  • Wheat

If your product (or its ingredients) contain any of the above allergenic foods, or contain ingredients derived from those foods, then the corresponding allergen must be listed in the allergen statement.

What do I do with my food’s Nutrition Facts Label files once I receive them?

You have a few options: you can either print the labels and place them on your package, or your graphic artist can incorporate them into your food label or packaging. Please keep in mind that there are specific guidelines from the FDA on size and placement of the Nutrition Facts panel.

With your order, you’ll receive our Food Labeling Guide, which covers the FDA regulations you will need to know for proper placement and sizing.

Can I put my nutrition label anywhere on my food’s packaging?

No. The nutrition facts panel, ingredient statement, and allergen statement should go in the “information panel” of the label as mandated by the FDA.

Another important FDA regulation on food labeling pertains to the Nutrition Facts panel formatting. The Nutrition Facts panel is available in different formats, and the format that you use depends on how much space is available on your food’s packaging.

When you order, you will receive a free copy of our Food Labeling Guide, which explains proper placement of the nutrition facts label.

When did Canada pass their regulations on food labeling?

The Food and Drugs Act, passed in 2003, clearly outlines labeling requirements of food products sold in Canada. Nutrition labeling became mandatory for all prepackaged foods sold in Canada on December 12, 2007. Click here for more details on Canadian Food Labeling provided by the Canadian government.

What is the difference between FDA nutrition labels and Canadian?

Some of the differences between U.S. and Canadian food labeling are: units of measure and bilingual requirements in western provinces (Canadian English, Canadian French, and Canadian Bilingual featuring French and English).

How do I determine the “serving size” for my product when having a Nutrition Fact Label produced for the Canadian market?

Serving Sizes can be found in the following table under Reference Amounts and Serving Sizes.

Can I use the same Nutrition Fact Label for Canada as I would use for the US

Unfortunately not, the label requirements are different for each country. Some differences include: variant rounding rules, different ingredient statement, allergen statement, and format requirements. Also both countries have their own established Daily Values.

Are there any foods that are “prohibited” from displaying a Canadian Nutrition Facts Label?

Yes, the following foods are prohibited from displaying a Canadian Nutrition Facts Label and have their own nutrition labeling requirements:

* formulated liquid diets
* infant formula
* foods containing infant formula
* meal replacements
* nutritional supplements; (that meet the requirements of section B.24.201, FDR)
* foods represented or use in very low energy diets

B.24.201 FDR: Meal replacements to which milk, partially skim milk or skim milk is to be added, must carry a statement that the nutrient content of the food has been determined taking into consideration the milk, partially skim milk or skim milk that is to be added according to the directions of use. foods represented for use in very low energy diets.

Am I required to provide the Nutrition Facts Label, Ingredient Statement and Allergen Statement on my Canadian Nutrition Facts Label?

No, only the Nutrition Facts Label and Ingredient Statement are required in Canada.

Do all foods Canadian food products require a Nutrition Facts Label?

No, not all foods require a Nutrition Facts Label. In fact the following list of foods do not require one: Fresh vegetables and fruits, raw meat and poultry (except when the meat is ground), Raw fish and seafood, foods prepared or processed at the store (bakery items, salads, etc.), foods such as coffee, tea, herbs and spices because they contain very few nutrients and alcoholic beverages.

Is food allergen testing necessary to confirm the presence or absence of allergens in my product?

If any of your ingredients contain allergens, you should assume that your final product will contain those same allergens. If you suspect the presence of allergens from another source, such as the manufacturing environment, you should have food allergen testing done on your final food product. This is especially true if you will be promoting the fact that your product does not have any of these allergens present.

Does the cost of $200 cover all the allergens I want to test for?

No. The $200 food allergen test covers testing for one allergen. If you want to test for more allergens, the cost will be an additional $200 per allergen.

Why does food nutritional analysis take so long?

Nutritional analysis requires a separate test for each nutrient, and each test uses a different AOAC method. Dietary fiber alone requires 14 days, as it uses bacterial consumption to replicate human digestion and absorption. To stay organized and ensure your results are 100% accurate, food nutritional analysis requires 25 business days for turnaround.

How long does food nutritional analysis take?

The turnaround time for lab analysis can be up to 25 business days from the time our lab receives your samples.

How do I pack my food product when shipping it to the lab?

We will need ½ pound of finished product to complete the testing.

Please do not ship your samples in glass containers (most clients use a plastic storage container). If your product is a liquid, make sure your container is leak-proof.

If your product is refrigerated, include a sufficient number of cold packs to keep it cool during the entire shipping process.

Ship your sample overnight or by two-day air, either using FedEx or UPS. Please ship your product to our lab address, which is provided on the Lab Information Form that you will receive via email before billing.

 

How do I know if I will need laboratory analysis to order a Nutrition Facts Label?

Because of their complex nature, these foods commonly need laboratory analysis:

  • Fermented products, such as beer or wine
  • Complex recipes that may be brined or marinated, such as a beef jerky
  • Brewed products, such as coffee or tea

Please contact us to discuss your food product. We can determine if your product will need laboratory testing.

In order to get a nutrition label, do I have to send samples of my food product to a lab for testing?

Not all food products require analysis in a food testing lab in order to create a nutrition label. In fact, most food recipes can be analyzed through our database software, which is less expensive and less time consuming than lab analysis . Lab analysis involves sending food samples to our lab for testing and can provide results within 25 days. In comparison, database analysis (which loads your recipe’s ingredient information into our software for analysis) can provide results in as little as 2-3 days.

Can I pay for expedited services?

No. Our lab cannot accommodate rush orders.

What is AAFCO?

According to their website, The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds and animal drug remedies.

What does ‘crude’ refer to in the Guaranteed Analysis?

Crude refers to the analysis method, not to the quality of the nutrient.

When would I need to list “guarantees” for nutrients beyond the required guarantees of protein, fat, fiber, and moisture?

If you are making additional claims on your pet food label, such as “high in calcium”, then you will need to include guarantees for the amounts of any nutrients that are included in your claims.

What must be included in the Guaranteed Analysis?

The only nutrients required to be listed in the Guaranteed Analysis, according to the AAFCO guidelines for pet food labeling, are:

  • The minimum percent of crude protein
  • The minimum percent of crude fat
  • The maximum percent of crude fiber
  • The maximum percent moisture

 

Are my recipes safe from public use and view?

Your recipes are safe with us! Your recipe and all other proprietary information remain confidential, and all clients receive a signed and dated non-disclosure agreement declaring the confidentiality of their proprietary information in our Statement of Work.

Why is the 100 gram report less expensive than the FDA Nutrition Fact Label Package?

The FDA nutrition fact package contains four elements that are NOT included in this service:

  1. FDA-Compliant Nutrition Fact Label
  2. Allergen Statement
  3. Ingredient Statement
  4. Food Labeling Guide

How accurate is the information on the 100 gram report?

The database we use has over 100,000 ingredients to build these reports. Not all nutrients are broken out for each ingredient so there are times that we may need to conduct laboratory analysis or request additional information from you about the specific ingredient.

Are my recipes safe from public use and view?

RL Food Testing destroys all recipes once the work is complete and provides you with signed and dated non-disclosure agreement protecting you.

If my menu has several items that are very similar – such as pizzas with the same crust but different toppings – is there a discount?

Every menu and menu board is unique, and pricing is based on a combination of factors. To review the individual items on your menu and get a personalized quote, contact us for a free consultation.

Do all states require restaurants to provide menu nutrition information to the public?

The FDA ruling requiring restaurants to provide nutrition information for menu items is a Federally mandated law – therefore, it applies in all states. However, you should still check with your local and state laws for details that may affect or modify the FDA requirements.

Are my recipes safe from public use and view?

Your recipes are safe with us! Your recipe and all other proprietary information remain confidential, and all clients receive a signed and dated non-disclosure agreement declaring the confidentiality of their proprietary information in our Statement of Work.

What is shelf life?

Shelf life is the amount of time for which a food or beverage is considered suitable for sale or consumption. The shelf life of a food product begins at the time it is manufactured or prepared and ends at the time it becomes unsuitable for sale or consumption.

 

What factors can influence a shelf life?

Your product’s ingredients (recipe), how it’s processed, type of packaging, and storage temperatures – either refrigerated or shelf stable (room temperature) – can all influence the shelf life of a food or beverage product.

Is the price for a one-year shelf life test the same as the price for a one-month test?

Yes. The cost is $850 regardless of expected length of the shelf life test.

Is food safety the only concern with shelf life?

No. Some products may be safe eat for a long time, such as beef jerky or dried foods; however, you need to consider the food’s aesthetics (also known as organoleptic properties) as well:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Taste

These properties are all affected with time, and any major change in these properties will certainly affect the quality of the eating experience and therefore will affect the shelf life of the product.

What are some examples of the shelf life of different products?

Here are a few shelf life duration guidelines that we have collected over the years, which may give you some idea of how long to your product will need to be tested for.

  • Beef Jerky: 9 months-1 year
  • BBQ Sauces: 4 months-6 months
  • Pasteurized Dairy Products: 3 weeks
  • Raw Juices: 5 days
  • Cakes, Cookies & Other Bakery Goods WITH Preservatives: 30 days
  • Salsa: 3 months-4 months

 

How long should I test my product for?

As a guideline to determine the length of shelf life testing your product may require, we recommend using the shelf life of a similar product as a reference to estimate your own product’s shelf life. For this estimate, use a similar product that is currently on the market and that has ingredients similar to the those in your product.

Other factors to consider when determining shelf life estimates are whether or not your product has preservatives or if it is heat-processed to preserve freshness. Lastly, the differences between making the product in a commercial kitchen versus a home-based kitchen can greatly impact the duration of your product’s shelf life.

Is laboratory testing necessary to determine my product’s shelf life?

Lab testing is the only method to determine an accurate shelf life for a food product.
Lab testing can be expensive and time consuming; however, there is no way around it. If a food manufacturer, big or small, needs to determine an accurate best-by date for their product, then testing in a lab must be done.

How can I extend my product’s shelf life?

We offer Recipe Modification consulting and can recommend ways to extend your product’s shelf life. For example, foods that are more acidic or that have lower water content tend to have a long shelf life; therefore, adjusting these measures can increase your product’s shelf life. Additionally, many of our clients add natural preservatives (such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) or citric acid) or artificial preservatives (such as stabilizers like carrageenan or xanthan gum). We can recommend the amount and type of preservatives that will best fit your product. Any expected increase in shelf life needs to be validated by submitting your product for shelf life testing.

Do you do accelerated shelf life testing?

No. Our lab only conducts real-time shelf life testing. If your shelf life is expected to be a year, then your testing will take one year.

Can you help make my food product’s shelf life longer?

Yes, we can make recommendations of preservatives, based on your product type.

Can you help lower the sodium level in my food product?

Yes, in fact, this a common request. We can make recommendations to modify your recipe to lower undesirable nutrient values.

Why is a food safety test important?

While cooking and proper preparation of food eliminates most bacteria and viruses, there are other ways in which contamination may occur, such as from improper handling or packaging. The food safety test tells you if the food is free of Salmonella, Listeria, and other common harmful microorganisms that may contaminate a food and make it unsafe to eat.

How is food safety testing different than a shelf life test?

The food safety test is a one-time test done on a single sample. In contrast, shelf life testing is performed on several samples at timed intervals.

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