I'm working on starting a small home-based bakery that will ship food products sold on a website directly to consumers. (Specifically, cookies.) As part of this work, I am designing packaging and am looking into FDA-compliant nutrition labels. Even though this two-person part-time business easily qualifies for an exemption, my preference is to nonetheless provide nutrition information as I believe it would be helpful to customers. At the same time, I believe providing inaccurate information is worse than no information at all. There is an extreme amount of conversation on calorie calculation for personal diets (including here and here), but little I can find on calculation for commercial purposes.

Obviously, nutritional information can be derived through laboratory tests and I have found many such services online.

Another possible solution (that I use for my own diet) is to simply "add-up" ingredient values from their respective labels. This method seems like a great solution but I'm concerned about its accuracy on an FDA-compliant label, especially after baking. I am skeptical of this process because:

  • I recall from high school chemistry that frying an egg changes its chemical composition and I'm assuming also its nutritional value, and
  • It is commonly stated online that processed foods have altered nutrition values.

My question is in three parts:

  1. Are these concerns about the "add-up" process accurate enough to disqualify it from a commercial level of nutrition labeling?
  2. Are there other methods I can use to calculate nutrition information accurately enough to meet FDA requirements without needing laboratory analysis?
  3. Do you have any other advice on this process or topic for a small business trying to balance providing this information voluntarily and the costs of hiring outside help?

Thank you.

  • 3
    These are excellent questions, but I urge you to consult qualified experts. I would start by calling your local university extension or the FDA itself on how to comply with the regulations. That said, most nutrition labeling is done analytically, and if done at the batch size, should be accurate enough at the serving size.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Dec 15, 2013 at 21:50
  • Thanks. That's my plan but I figured it'd be worth asking online just to see if I can get any advice or tips first.
    – user21931
    Dec 15, 2013 at 21:51
  • 1
    Stop by Seasoned Advice Chat during (US-ish) business hours; one of our regulars just might have some insight.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Dec 15, 2013 at 21:52
  • 3
    Depends what you mean by "changes nutritional value". People sometimes use that as a fancy way of saying for "makes it less healthy". Baking will caramelise some sugars and denature proteins, but on the whole, going by the properties of the macronutrients, and assuming that the law of conservation of mass applies, their amounts will remain more or less the same. If you put 100g sugar carbs into X amount of batter, there'll be 100g sugar carbs in however much there is of the result. Vitamins will probably get destroyed but I don't think anyone eats cookies for those.
    – millimoose
    Dec 16, 2013 at 4:39
  • There are vitamins in raw cookie dough? :D
    – Mien
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


Use Wolfram Alpha, it is just adding them up. But any lab result has to use average ingredient figures too. You need to allow for variance in supply i.e protein level of flour changes with variety and season.

It produces pretty labels, all ready to go!

e.g. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=100g+flour+and+100g+butter+and+50g+sugar

enter image description here

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