Nutrition labels are complicated, so always remembers: with great power comes great responsibility.
There are a few really important things to think about when you are associating your ingredients to items in the FDC (FoodData Central) database, or providing nutrition data for them. Some of these items include:
- Are you providing FDC data for the raw, or the cooked product?
- Do you need to know what the "Added Sugars" are, per the new US nutrition label requirements? See our separate article on Added Sugars.
- Do you cook off a lot of fat from your raw ingredients?
- Do you deep fry your ingredients?
Knowing and carefully considering your answers to the above questions will solve almost all of the significant challenges that our customers have when working with nutrition labels.
Raw vs Cooked Ingredients
As an example, if you create a new Ingredient in Recipe Cost Calculator that is meat-based (e.g. Bacon), you may associate a FDC (FoodData Central) item to that ingredient (e.g. Bacon, raw). The issue that can present itself is that the nutrition data for raw bacon differs significantly from that of cooked bacon (during the cooking process you lose a significant amount of weight from moisture loss and draining off fat). At the same time, associating "Bacon, Cooked" from the nutrition database as the nutritional data to your raw bacon ingredient isn't going to get you the correct results either.
In cases like this, you may need to consider creating separate ingredients that are used specifically for your nutrition labels (and not for costing).
Recipe Cost Calculator added support for "Added Sugars" in November of 2018. The functionality is as of yet limited, as data from the nutrition database (as of November 2018) does not yet include any information on Added Sugars (whether in raw ingredients, or finished products).
Please read our separate help article on Added Sugars for more information.
Deep Fried Ingredients
If you deep fry items in your recipes that you require nutritional information on, you may experience challenges in calculating nutrition data for your recipes that we are unable to assist with. Alternatively, you could consider the solution mentioned above (creating new ingredients in Recipe Cost Calculator that are used for nutrition labels only) if the nutrition database has, or if you are able to locate, nutritional information for deep fried variations of your ingredients.
Double Check. Verify. Compare.
It's always a good idea to try to find a comparable product to compare your recipe's nutrition label to. It's a great way to "sanity check" your labels to make sure they're not out of whack.
The Struggle Is Real
We realize the nutrition labels can be challenging - so let us know if you have any questions.