Nutritional Label Testing for Dietary Supplements

Along with the growth of the dietary supplement industry there has also been an increase in the regulatory requirements. Dietary Supplement is a product that supplements the diet when taken orally and whose label clearly states that it is a dietary supplement. Dietary supplements require nutritional label testing as well as claims testing through food testing laboratories so that the product is in compliance.Food Safety Regulation in India states that all products labelled as dietary supplements shall have nutritional facts/ nutritional information like vitamins, minerals, proteins and energy etc. per serving of 100gm/100 ml listed on label panel.

For dietary supplements one of the most important laboratory testing requirements is the testing of nutrition information provided on labels. A nutritional panel information label entails a complicated process where the various nutrition facts have to be incompliance with regulatory requirements. The nutrition information label on the dietary supplement package needs to mention all the necessary facts accurately, so the product must be tested in a food laboratory before the supplement reaches the market. Any misinformation about claims can have negative effect on the marketing of the products.

Nutritional Label Analysis includes

  • Calories
  • Calories from Fat
  • Total Fat
  • Fatty Acid
  • Saturated, Unsaturated, & Trans Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Dietary Fibre
  • Sugar
  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Calcium
  • Iron

The consumers as well as the regulators expect that all this information is accurate and does not mislead the consumers. Also the product must meet the nutrition label claim even at the end of shelf life so shelf life testing is a must in a food laboratory.

Accurate serving size for nutrition

Serving size of the dietary supplement plays a key role in ensuring that the functional claims and nutrition claims are indeed accurate. The nutrient values in the serving size must also be sufficient in order to be effective for the purpose of the claims of the dietary supplement. It is therefore, necessary to indicate the correct serving size as per tablet/capsule, per teaspoonful or per packet. Since consumption of excessive levels of dietary supplements can have an adverse effect on health so food testing laboratories test the dietary supplements for accuracy of serving size. Also the recommended daily allowance must be as prescribed by the ICMR

Testing for accuracy of claims

Food Business Operators (FBOs) have to ensure that they declare correct information on labels. Adulterated or misbranded products are liable to be penalized so they have to be careful about making any claims. Any claims made on the label have to be backed by clinical studies and food testing laboratories carry out testing of dietary supplements to establish claims.  Recognised food testing laboratories have the expertise to ensure that

  • claims made describing the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient meets the intended function claim as appropriate for the dietary supplements
  • ingredients are listed in an appropriate manner and are approved by food regulations
  • nutritional facts panel is designed and displayed appropriately
  • Safety parameters are as per regulations