What are the latest nutritional facts

Using Nutrition Analysis to Create Your Menu

Nutrition Analysis | 5 mins read
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Many dine-in customers have budgets, food allergens, strict diets to follow, and even prefer a certain portion size. Consumers not only value knowing the nutritional facts of their food, they also demand them.

In addition, the FDA sets food safety guidelines that some chains require to list the nutrient content of their menu items.

Both small and large guests often perform analysis to suit their customers and comply with FDA regulations. Here is everything you need to know about building a menu using a software system to do a nutritional analysis.

What is nutrition analysis?

Nutritional analysis is a complex process that calculates the nutrient content of food. Restaurants use nutrition labels to inform customers about the calories and nutrients in each dish.

Customers prefer to know the nutritional value of foods for medical or dietetic purposes. By using a nutritional label, restaurants of all sizes can accommodate consumers by demonstrating their transparency and authenticity.

Restaurants can curate their menus based on the nutritional needs of their customers. For example, a health-based diner may conduct a nutritional analysis to ensure that all of its menu items contain a minimal amount of saturated fat or carbohydrates.

Nutritional analysis is a painstaking and tedious process of finding out the number of calories per gram, the number of proteins, the primary nutrients, the amount of fats and the number of carbohydrates. None of this can be achieved until the ingredients in each menu item are compiled.

Usually a nutrition analysis is presented in tabular form to make it easier to read. In the United States, the nutrition label displays 11 major items divided into 4 categories - serving information, calories, nutrients, and percent of daily value.

Here is a summary of the four categories included in the nutritional facts labels-

1. Serving information
The serving information relates to the amount that consumers typically eat or drink. Serving information is provided in familiar units such as cups or pieces along with the metric equivalent such as grams.

2. Calories
Calories are the amount of energy a person gets per serving. A single calorie is determined by the amount of energy it takes to heat one kilogram of water at sea level at one degree Celsius. The FDA recommends that the average person consumes 2,000 calories a day.

3. Nutrient
Nutrients are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients provide energy for the body and include protein, fat and carbohydrates. The body also needs micronutrients or vitamins and minerals.

4. Percent of the daily value
The Percentage of Daily Value (% DV) is the number of nutrients a person should or should not eat in a day. This informs consumers whether a food is high or low in nutrients and how much more to eat to reach the optimal daily level.

Here is the essential information about each of the elements in the four categories-

  • Nutrition labels show the total amount of fat broken down into saturated and trans fat.
  • Cholesterol is listed under the total amount of fat.
  • Sodium is listed under total cholesterol.
  • Fiber, sugar, and added sugars are a subsection of total carbohydrates. These are listed under sodium.
  • Proteins are also included among total carbohydrates.
  • In the United States, minerals found on a nutritional label are typically vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.

How to Do a Nutrition Analysis

1. Know the laws


Before purchasing software to calculate nutritional values, it is important to understand the various FDA dietary guidelines. Please read the FDA website for a detailed summary of these regulations. The most important takeaways include-

  • Food companies with a chain of 20 or more locations under the same name are obliged to include nutritional information in their menu items.
  • These larger chains have to publish calorie data on nutrition labels for their menu items.
  • Large food companies have to present calorie information on signs next to the display of food if it is a regular menu item.
  • These large chains must contain a statement about the suggested daily intake of calories.
  • When customers request nutritional information, large chains need to be able to provide a nutrition label.
2. Use a software system


Before software became widespread, restaurants had to send their items to a laboratory for food testing. Because of how expensive and timely this process was, only larger chains had the resources to carry it out.

Fortunately, intuitive and easy-to-use software is an option for small and large restaurants that want to perform nutritional analysis. Most software databases already contain nutritional information from thousands of ingredients around the world.

Users can customize their food testing software and upload the latest information on food composition by geographic location.

A nutritional software program allows restaurants to easily stay compliant with FDA standards because the calculations are made automatically and accurately. This saves restaurants time and prevents the non-compliance that leads to fines and other legal ramifications.

For most nutrition software systems, users only need to enter their ingredients and servings. The system calculates automatically and shows an exact evaluation of the nutrient content in a legible manner.

Other database analysis functions include

  • Ability to calculate the comprehensive nutritional quality of each recipe and determine caloric values.
  • Ability to automatically convert volume to weight, ounces to grams, or allowance for nutrient loss.
  • Opportunity to analyze a menu and compare the options against the standards set by the FDA to see how nutritious the food is.
  • Can analyze the calorie intake of one or more people for a meal, a day, a week, etc. Can use stored nutrition data
  • to identify customers' eating habits. Restaurants can use this information to refine menus, increase sales and build their brands.

Conclusion

Here are the critical takeaways that one can think of about performing

  • a nutritional analysis should remember- A nutrition analysis calculates the nutritional value of food. Larger chains have to include nutrient labels in their menu items.
  • Both small and large restaurants prefer to do a nutrition analysis in order to be transparent and authentic with their customers.
  • A food label contains four main categories of information, calories, nutrients and percent of daily value.
  • Find out about FDA laws to ensure compliance with nutritional labeling and standards.
  • Save time and money by using an intuitive software system to run analysis automatically.
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