• Lauren Humphreys

Serving Sizes Part II

Last month, I introduced Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs) and the proper way to determine Serving Sizes for Nutrition Facts Panels on foods. If you missed Part I of my three part Serving Size series, you can check it out here! In addition to using an accurate Serving Size based on the RACC, manufacturers should include a visual unit of measure (or common household measure) and the metric units in the Serving Size line. The metric units are either in grams (if the product is measured by weight) or volume in milliliters (if the product is measured by volume). A visual unit of measure should reflect portions that are common to consumers and can be easily visualized. For example, acceptable visual units of measure tsp, Tbsp, cup, piece, slice, or fraction of a package.  I have included some examples that are correct and others that are inaccurate:

These examples are correct. The visual unit of measure is in bold font:

  • Serving Size 2 Tbsp (30mL)

  • Serving Size ½ cup (30g)

  • Serving Size 1 oz (28g/about 4 pieces)

  • Serving Size ¼ pizza (142g)

The following examples are incorrect:

  • Serving Size about 2 Tbsp (30mL) – “about 2 Tbsp” is not a discrete amount

  • Serving Size 30g – missing a visual unit of measure

  • Serving Size 1oz (28g) – missing a visual unit of measure

  • Serving Size ¼ pizza – missing the weight in grams

Serving Sizes are intended to help consumers. If a visual unit of measure is missing, it difficult to know what portion of food is reflected in a labeled serving. For example, if I saw the following Nutrition Facts Panel for almonds, I would not know how many almonds are in a Serving Size by looking at the label.


NOTE: The above label also has formatting issues, incorrect nutrient rounding, and is missing 5 nutrients! YIKES!


This label has a visual unit of measure in the Serving Size because it lists “about 28 nuts.”

The new FDA Final Rules for Nutrition Label Reform that were finalized on May 20, 2016, include changes and additions to RACC categories. For example, the Serving Size and nutritional information on ice cream labels with the new Nutrition Facts Panel will be changing to reflect a 2/3 cup portion size instead of ½ cup. As labels are updated to reflect the new changes required for Nutrition Label Reform, I am hopeful to see less Serving Size issues. My final post in this series will highlight some key Serving Size changes that will be coming as a result of Nutrition Label Reform!

Stay tuned for more posts on nutrition labeling and regulatory topics, including Part III of this series!

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