Nutrition Calculation for Recipes – Things to Consider
Reliable advice and information in nutrition calculations appear to be in very short supply. Many food professionals are not aware of all of the various considerations. 25 years in this industry, hearing the stories and activities of professionals throughout the industry and our own vast experience has prompted me to write this paper.
The considerations I want to look at are:
- The McCance & Widdowson data, as published, are not suitable
- Many suppliers specifications are outdated, wrong or incomplete
- The loss and or gain of moisture must be considered
- The inclusion of alcohol may affect the way products are calculated
- The limitations & strengths of laboratory analysis
- The limitations & strengths of calculated results
- The intended end use of the information
The McCance & Widdowson data, as published, is not suitable
Since December 2014, the legislation has stated that all figures for nutrition labelling be calculated in line with the new EU1169/2011 requirements.
The well-known McCance & Widdowson data are considered to be the industry-standard ingredient information used throughout the UK, and have been widely available for 75 years.
But the figures offered in the McCance & Widdowson publication have not been suitable for labelling purposes since 1978, unless they are re-calculated to bring them in line with the Labelling Regulations. This is because they are expressed in line with the requirements of dieticians.
For example, the McCance carbohydrate figures have been modified to take account what happens in the stomach. Thus, the carbohydrate figure for white sugar is stated in the book as 105%. Most of the other carbohydrate values are not correct. Those that can be relied upon are the ingredients for which all carbohydrate is monosaccharide.
A lot of the protein values are also unsuitable, because of varying nitrogen factors.
And there is therefore an impact of both of these factors on the overall energy values.
Figures for labelling must be calculated in line with the new EU1169/2011 requirements. So the NutriCalc version of this data file has been re-calculated to make it suitable for labelling.
Any person wishing to make manual calculations from data provided by either McCance & Widdowson or data taken from other national databases must make adjustments in order to be in line with the EU1169/2011 requirements.
How good are specifications?
- Select the overall % cook loss
- Enter the batch and yield weights of the product
- Enter the final moisture content (ideal for biscuit, cracker and sweet manufacturers)
The strengths and limitations of laboratory analysis
The limitations & strengths of calculated results
- Fermented products such as salami, sauerkraut and yoghurt
- Deep-fried products
- A product that has something removed after or during cooking (such as skimming fat or removing skins etc.)
- Products that lose material (not moisture) during the cooking process (such as grilled chops)
- Pickled products where vinegar is drained (chutneys etc. are fine)
The intended use of the Nutrition Information
All of the opinions and advice contained in this paper are based on the assumption that the nutrition information will be used for product labels.
For Restaurants, Caterers and Retail outlets selling unwrapped foods, there is much more scope. Again, please speak to me or a member of my team if you are uncertain about where you stand on this.