Nutrition Information

Soft drinks were originally produced to serve one main purpose, namely, refreshment. Over the years, due to consumer demand and special niche marketing opportunities, many versions of the original beverages were developed to cater to specialty markets that focused mainly on claimed nutritional benefits for the consumer.

First were the sugar-free beverages that targeted the ever-growing market of weight-conscious consumers. These were the so-called diet drinks. In the last few decades, the soft drink market has literally been swamped with a multitude of beverage types that claim to offer the consumer diverse nutritional benefits.

The labeling requirements of such beverages are prescribed by food laws. Most countries are strict in this respect. Whatever The nutrition information table on the particular claim is, a nutrition information section in tabular the label is linked to the claim. format is usually required on the label. This table must contain specific data in respect to the particular claim made for the product. Each country's food laws prescribe its well-defined format for nutrition information presentation on labels. Table 8.1 and Table 8.2 illustrate examples of what such nutrition information sections could look like.

TABLE 8.1

Nutrition Information — Low-Energy Diet Drink

Nutrition Information

Per 330 ml

Per 100 ml Beverage Beverage

Carbohydrate g 0 0

Protein g 0 0

Energy kJ 5.9 19.9

TABLE 8.2

Nutrition Information —

Vitamin-Enriched Sports Drink

Nutrition Information

Per 100 ml

% RDAa

Beverage

Per 250 ml Serving

per 250 ml Serving

Energy

kJ

120

300

kcal

28

71

Carbohydrate

g

7.5

19

N/A

Protein

g

0

0

N/A

Fat

g

0

0

N/A

Sodium

mg

24

60

N/A

Potassium

mg

4

10

N/A

Calcium

mg

10

25

3

Phosphorous

mg

14

35

4

Vitamin A

:g R.E.

8.4

21.0

2

Vitamin E

mg aT.E

. 0.5

1.3

13

Vitamin C

mg

24.0

60.0

100

Vitamin B6

mg

0.16

0.40

20

Folic acid

:g

16.0

40.0

20

Note: R.E. = retinol equivalent; T.E. = tochopherol equivalent; N/A = not applicable. aRDA for adults and children over 10 years old.

Note: R.E. = retinol equivalent; T.E. = tochopherol equivalent; N/A = not applicable. aRDA for adults and children over 10 years old.

In Table 8.1, the layout is for a diet drink that is claimed to be Some examples of nutrition infor- low in energy content or to be a low-calorie drink. The table mation Me:layouts. contains information relevant to the claim; hence, the content of the three main energy nutrient categories — carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — must be listed. The total energy contributed by these, being the key information relevant to the low-energy claim, must also be listed in the table. (Energy units listed depend on those used in the particular country. It is advisable to list both unit types, kilojoules and kilocalories, to cater to the product export potential).

The values presented are for 100 ml of beverage, which is the commonly accepted standard reference quantity throughout the world (that is, in countries using the metric system). The table also has the values for a 330 ml quantity, this being the can content of the labeled product. The inclusion of this column in the table is often of voluntary nature. The 100 ml column is mandatory.

Table 8.2 is for a sports drink with a vitamin-enriched claim on the label. The nutrition information table is more complex than the previous one. It must contain the macronutrients (carbohydrate, proteins, and fats) and energy data. It must also contain the vitamins and electrolyte content as well as an indication of how much these represent as a percentage of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).

Note that the nutrition information table lists the data for 100 ml as well as for a recommended serving of 250 ml. The latter is, in this case, mandatory. It is the guideline consumer consumption quantity for the claimed nutritional and sports performance benefits of the product.

The established RDA values for vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients are usually contained in authoritative schedules in annexes of the labeling regulations. Most countries use universally accepted RDA values established by recognized world health and nutrition organizations, though sometimes differences between countries do crop up.

These two examples of a nutrition information table required on a label are relatively simple and straightforward. When the product is much more nutritionally orientated and the claims are more numerous and specifically focused, the tables could become more complex (and will occupy much more space on the label).

At the end of the day, it can be said that labeling legislation in respect to nutritional claims in soft drinks is there, first, to Labeling legislation aims atpmvid-

instruct the manufacturer on how to go about providing the ing true and accurate information relevant information to verify claims for the prospective con- to the consumer.

sumer. Second, the legislation aims to prevent misleading and incorrect information from appearing on the label of the product, whether this is done unwittingly or deliberately.

Persons involved in the labeling of soft drinks are advised to acquaint themselves with the subject of nutrition information.

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