Food First Blog | Tip of the Week: All About B Vitamins

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Tip of the Week: All About B Vitamins
Tip of the Week: All About B Vitamins

This week we’ll cover labeling of B vitamins in enriched flour and when they are required to be listed in your nutrition facts table. There is often confusion about food products that are made with standardized enriched flour because it contains added Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid. Also, there are still concerns about applying the new units of measure for Folate under the recent FDA food labeling regulations. Let’s take a deeper look into how these nutrients are labeled and when they are required to be disclosed.

What is Folate mcg DFE and how does it relate to Folic Acid, Food Folate, and Folacin?

Under the old FDA regulations, the terms folate, folic acid, and folacin were all interchangeable and any of them could be used to represent the nutrient in the nutrition panel. With the new FDA regulations, the term “Folic Acid” is now reserved for the synthetic version that is added to foods. “Food Folate” is defined as folate naturally occurring in foods, and “Folacin” is no longer a permitted term in labeling. The nutrient is declared in the nutrition panel as “Folate” and is measured in mcg DFE which stands for micrograms Dietary Folate Equivalents. It takes 1 mcg of food folate to equal 1 mcg DFE, but only 0.6 mcg Folic Acid to equal 1 mcg DFE. This means that synthetic folic acid has a greater bioavailability than food folate. To calculate the declaration for Folate in mcg DFE for your product, divide the mcg of Folic Acid by 0.6, and then add that value to the micrograms of Food Folate.

It is important to check nutrition information being provided to you by your ingredient suppliers to ensure it has been updated to the new regulations. The Folate value should be reported in mcg DFE and you should also have values for food folate and folic acid so that you can check the conversion. These values are a part of the record keeping requirements under the new regulations.

When am I required to list the B Vitamins on my label?

When using enriched flour in foods, all of the ingredients in the flour, including the additional B vitamins, need to be declared in the ingredient list for the food. However, just using enriched flour to make a food product does not automatically trigger the need to include the additional B vitamins in the nutrition panel. The following are situations where you would need to declare them as a part of your nutrition:

  1. If you are making an enriched standardized product that calls for these four B vitamins (e.g., enriched bread, enriched macaroni product, etc.) then you will need to declare the additional vitamins in the nutrition panel in the order prescribed by the regulations. 
  2. If you make a claim (e.g., “good source of riboflavin”) about any or all of the B vitamins being contributed by the enriched flour or refer to the enriched flour (“made with enriched flour”), then you will need to declare in your nutrition panel the nutrients that are the subject of the claim. This is claim specific. A claim about one nutrient would not mean that all of them must be listed. However, referring to the enriched flour on your label would mean that all four of the nutrients would need to be declared.

Instead of purchasing enriched flour, can I use regular flour and an enrichment packet?

Due to limitations on the types of foods that folic acid can be added to, you can only use flour enrichment packets (that include folic acid) to make standardized foods that call for folic acid or to make foods to which folic acid can be added. Adding enrichment separately means that you are adding nutrients to the food you are making so you will need to include all of the additional nutrients in the nutrition panel on the label.  

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Avatar  Varalakshmi 6 months agoReply

Never knew so much goes behind food labeling. Got to know few things about the ingredients. Thanks for sharing.
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