FDA (US) Nutrition Label Rounding Rules

Posted on July 13, 2022 by

The FDA has very specific rules covering how to round nutrition labels depending on the nutrient and its value. That's why you [hopefully!] won't see labels showing 122 Calories or 2.5% Daily Value of Fat. With so many different nutrients and numbers on a nutrition label, rounding makes it easier for consumers to digest the information on your packaging.

After all, it's the same thing you naturally do when someone asks you the time (you'll round to the nearest 5, 10, or maybe 15 minutes) or how much cash you have on hand. The FDA just lays out how exactly to round each nutrient at each value of that nutrient, rather than you winging it. It keeps labels consistent and less demanding to read.

Below, we'll lay out the rounding rules for each nutrient on a nutrition label. ReciPal's nutrition labeling software does all this automatically so you don't have to think about it, but it's still useful to have a reference and to sanity check your labels.

The Major Nutrients

Because it's not confusing enough to have rounding rules, there have to be lots of them. In fact, the FDA has created different ranges of values for nutrients, and each range has its own rounding requirement. For the main nutrients in the panel--calories, fat, protein, carbs, etc.--the rules look like this:

Nutrient Rounding Rule
Calories <5 round to 0;
≤50 round to nearest 5 cal;
>50 round to nearest 10 cal
All Fats (Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Poly and Monounsaturated Fat <0.5 g round to 0;
<5 g round to nearest 0.5 g;
≥5 g round to nearest 1 g
Cholesterol < 2 mg round to 0;
2-5 mg show as "less than 5 mg";
>5 mg round to nearest 5 mg
Sodium <5 mg round to 0;
5-140 mg round to the nearest 5 mg;
>140 mg round to the nearest 10 mg
All Carbohydrates (Total Carbs, Dietary Fiber, Sugar, Added Sugar, Sugar Alcohol) <0.5 g round to 0;
<1 g show as "less than 1 g";
≥1 g round to the nearest 1 g
Protein <0.5 g round to 0;
<1 g show as "less than 1 g" or round to 1 g;
≥1 g round to the nearest 1 g

So What Else Gets Rounded?

As we said, everything gets rounded, so there are rules for percentage daily values too. These rules apply to all nutrients that have to show a percentage of the daily value that a serving of the product supplies. So they include all vitamins and minerals and everything in the main panel except trans fat, total sugars, and protein (% DV isn't required for protein, but it is allowed, and if you show it, it's rounded too):

% DV Rounding Rule
All Nutrients Except Vitamins and Minerals round to nearest 1%
Vitamins and Minerals <2% of RDI round to 0;
≤10% RDI round to nearest 2% DV;
>10%-50% RDI round to nearest 5% DV;
>50% round to nearest 10% DV

But Wait, There's More - Quantitative Vitamin Rounding

When the FDA updated its rules in 2016, it decided to add a requirement to show an actual amount (in mg or mcg) for the mandatory vitamins and minerals in the panel (Vitamin D, Potassium, Calcium, and Iron) as well as for any optional ones like Vitamins A and C, Folate, Zinc, etc. Where would the fun be if those numbers didn't have to be rounded too? Here are those rules:

Mandatory Vitamin/Mineral Quantitative Amount Rounding Rule
Calcium Nearest 10 mg
Iron Nearest 0.1 mg
Vitamin D Nearest 0.1 mcg
Potassium Nearest 10 mg

Optional Vitamin/Mineral Quantitative Amount Rounding Rule
Thiamin, Riboflavin, B6, B12, Copper, Manganese Nearest 0.01 mg or mcg
Vit. E, Niacin, Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Zinc, Chromium, Molybdenum Nearest 0.1 mg or mcg
Vit. C, Vit. K, Iodine, Selenium Nearest 1 mg or mcg
Folate, Magnesium Nearest 5 mg or mcg
Vit. A, Phosphorus, Chloride, Choline Nearest 10 mg or mcg

Don't Forget the Number of Servings

The number of servings in your package also gets rounded, even though it's not a nutrient like the other items mentioned above.

Servings Per Container Rounding Rule
<2 Servings Per Container Should be a Single Serving Per Container
2-5 Servings Per Container Round to nearest 0.5 Servings
>5 Servings Per Container Round to nearest 1 Serving Per Container

That's The Rounding Roundup

Now you know what's required, and it's kind of a lot to chew on, but you don't have to worry about it if you use ReciPal's nutrition label maker. It's all happening behind the scenes when ReciPal formats your label!

Once you enter your recipe from our USDA nutrition database, we'll calculate the unrounded nutrition values for you, and your customizable label will round each nutrient value based on the rules above. Then you can download your finished compliant nutrition label as a digital file (PDF or JPG), including the ingredient list, allergens, and business address, to print however you'd like. You'll impress your more nutrition conscious customers and be able to sell to wholesale buyers with confidence.


About Lev Berlin

Lev Berlin is the founder & CEO of ReciPal. Having previously been a founder of SlantShack Jerky, he needed nutrition labels and simple tools to start and run the business. He's read the FDA food labeling code countless times in the process of creating ReciPal and helping small food businesses with their labels. He's reviewed and created thousands of food labels, and been a mentor and guest speaker at food incubators, food business courses, and regulatory conferences, like Brooklyn Foodworks and ICE.

After graduating from Princeton with an engineering degree, Lev was a management consultant, then founder or early employee at half a dozen startups. He loves nothing more than helping other small businesses get off the ground and achieve their goals.

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