Today’s consumers rely on nutrition claims on a product label to make better food choices.
Nowadays, consumers are more conscious of nutrition claims to help them decide their daily diet.
With that in mind, sellers must provide accurate and factual information about the nutritional content of their products.
In this article, we have summarized the nutrient claims on food products allowed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
What is a Nutrition Label?
Since forever, people gather information about a product from many sources; family, friends, ads, and the media. Nowadays, consumers are more conscious and read the information on the product label.
Nutrition labels are a helpful source of nutrition information such as the amount of energy, nutrients, and vitamins.
This helps consumers compare the nutrient composition of similar products by different brands.
What are Nutrition Claims?
Nutrition claims or otherwise known as nutrient content claims describe the level of nutrients in a food product.
Sellers can put these on their labels so long as the nutrition claims follow the Food Regulations set by the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
There are 4 types of nutrition claims that are permitted in Malaysia:
- Nutrition labelling
- Nutrient content claim
- Nutrient comparative claim
- Nutrient function claim
What are the Nutrition Claims Allowed on Product Labels?
Before any nutrient claims are made, the food product must meet specific criteria. These criteria have been stated in the Food Regulations.
We know how little time you have to read through the whole lengthy document (168 pages!) so we’ll summarize the information for you.
As the name implies, nutrition labeling is the description of the product’s nutrient content intended to inform the consumer.
Typically, this includes the energy and nutrient content of the food which must be stated on the label per serving size and per 100g/100ml.
Do take note that only the core nutrients are compulsory on the label. The list of main nutrients that must be on the packaging label is:
- Total Sugars
You can also include optional nutrients provided that they are present in significant amounts.
Where to get a nutrition facts label?
Also known as the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP), the nutrient information must be analyzed by a certified testing laboratory in Malaysia.
You need to send a sample of your product to a nutrition lab for testing before you can put the NIP on your product label.
Sample of the NIP containing the core and compulsory nutrient contents
Sample of NIP containing optional nutrients
Nutrient Content Claim
As stated in the Food Regulations, a nutrient content claim means a nutrition claim that describes the nutrient level of a food product.
Specifically, this pertains to the claim ‘low’ or ‘free’ on the label. If you want to claim your product as having low fat or sugar-free, you cannot do so lightly.
You must first refer to Table I and Table II to the Fifth A Schedule for any claims of:
- Low-nutrient food
- Nutrient-free food
- Source of nutrient
- High-nutrient food
Table I Fifth A Schedule
40 kcal (170kJ) per 100g
20 kcal (80kJ) for 100ml
|Free||4 kcal for each 100ml or 100g|
3 g per 100g
1.5 g per 100ml
|Free||0.15 g for every 100g or 100ml|
1.5 gm per 100g
0.75 gm per 100ml
*and 10% of the total food energy
|Free||0.1 g for every 100g or 100ml|
0.02 g per 100g
0.01 g per 100ml
|Free||0.005 g for each 100g or 100ml|
|Trans Fatty Acid||Low||Solid
1.5 g per 100g
0.75 g per 100ml
|Free||0.1 g per 100g or 100ml|
|Sugar||Free||0.5 g per 100g or 100ml|
|Sodium||Low||0.12 g per 100g|
|Very Low||0.04 g per 100ml|
|Free||0.005 g per 100g or 100ml|
Table II Fifth A Schedule
|Protein||Source||10% of NRV per 100g|
|High||At least twice the value for “Source”|
|Vitamins & Minerals||Source||Solid
15% of NRV per 100g
7.5% of NRV per 100ml
|High||At least twice the value for “Source”|
(*) Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)
As for food products that are naturally low in or free of the nutrient, these are the rules you must follow:
A low (name of nutrient) food
A (name of nutrient)-free food
Nutrient Comparative Claims
The Food Regulation states that nutrient comparative claims are allowed to compare the nutrient levels of 2 or more foods.
These claims include using words such as:
- less than
- more than
- or any other words of similar meaning.
However, there are some conditions that sellers should take note of if they want to use nutrient comparative claims.
- The compared food must be a different version of similar food.
- Food comparison must be clearly identified on the label.
- The difference in nutrient content must be placed close to the claim.
- Nutrient content difference should be at least 25%.
Nutrient Function Claim
Last but not least, the nutrient function claim is the description of the nutrient in terms of growth, development, and normal functions of the body.
It’s quite lengthy so we’ve listed the most common nutrient function claims (or words of similar meaning) that the Food Regulation allows:
Essential for the growth and division of cells
Plays a role in the formation of red blood cells
Helps to maintain the growth and development of the fetus
An important component of the brain tissue;
A factor in red blood cell formation
Component in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of the body
Aids in the development of strong bones and teeth
Promotes calcium absorption and retention
Helps build and repair body tissues
Essential for growth and development
Provides amino acids necessary for protein synthesis
Aids in maintaining the health of the skin and mucous membrane
Essential for the functioning of the eye
Needed for the release of energy from carbohydrates
Needed for the release of energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
Needed for red blood cell production
Enhances absorption of iron from nonmeat sources
Contributes to the absorption of iron from food
Helps the body utilize calcium and phosphorus
Necessary for the absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus
Protects the fat in body tissues from oxidation
Essential for growth
Where to find Nutrition Facts Label Consulting?
All in all, even though we’ve summarized all the essential information, it is still overwhelming.
But, accurate labels on food products are important for government compliance and building your customer’s trust.
We have the right expertise to make sure you get it right the first time so your product hits the shelves.
Foodipedia helps you with label development, label audits, nutrition claims, lab testing, and printing your own label.
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