“Did you know that ketchup has more sugar than ice cream?”
You may have heard claims like this thrown around, but they aren’t entirely true. Yes, most often, if you eat a spoonful of ketchup and a spoonful of ice cream, you’d be getting more sugar from the ketchup, but who eats a spoonful of ketchup? It’s a questionable comparison. Luckily, the FDA has standard sizes for different types of foods called Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs).
These RACCs are used to standardize servings of a particular category, and help dictate the types of claims a product can make. An ice cream product can claim “excellent source of protein” if it has enough protein per it’s RACC, but you can’t say that ketchup is an excellent source of protein just because you ate it in the same quantity. You must have enough protein per the ketchup’s RACC to make a claim like that. While the information on the nutrition facts panel is the most visible information to the consumer, it doesn’t always control the claims that a product can make. Most often, this must be done using the RACC. The serving size present on the package could be the same as that of it’s RACC, but, as you may have noticed when comparing the nutrition facts panels of similar products, this is often not the case.
In order to truly understand what a product is able to claim about itself, a nutrient analysis is needed. The RACC is established based upon the categorization of the product and the FDA’s reference amount for that category. Using this information, the product’s nutrients can be analyzed as if the product was the size of it’s RACC. This is where true value lies for nutrition content claims, confirming what the product can say about itself.
Establishing the nutrition contents per a product’s RACC value is not the only useful analysis a product can undergo. It can be useful to compare the nutrition of 2 products that do not share the same category, such as the ketchup and ice cream example, however, using the serving sizes on the package can be misleading. A standard size should be used to compare the contents. This is commonly done by setting the serving size to 100 grams or milliliters. Contrary to the RACC analysis, in this comparison, the ketchup will often have more sugar than the ice cream. This can be beneficial for cross category comparisons. Comparing ice cream to something like yogurt and the ketchup to something like barbeque sauce can be beneficial.
Label Insight analyzes the on-package information along with the RACC and per 100 grams analyses in order to create the most well rounded picture of the product. This data is leveraged to produce the highest quality and most diverse attribution for food and beverage products. This takes Label Insight’s derived attribution to the next level. While the nutrition facts panel is a great place to start when looking for nutrition information, RACCs are essential for regulatory compliance around nutrient content claims.