Tip of the Week: Is your protein claim legal?

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Protein claims are a great way to add value to a product and can be found on packages of all kinds of foods. What some manufacturers don’t know is that when they make or imply a protein claim of any kind, there is additional information they need to include in the Nutrition Facts Panel. 

If a company makes a protein claim such as “10g Protein per Serving” or “High Protein”, or if they imply a claim such as “High in Whey Protein”, they are required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include the % Daily Value (%DV) for protein in the nutrition table. However, the %DV must be based on the corrected protein value, not the amount that is declared in the Nutrition Facts Panel. This corrected value utilizes the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and is calculated for products made for adults and children 1 or more years of age by multiplying the declared amount of protein by the PDCAAS.

PDCAAS is an adjustment for the quality of the protein. It is based on the type and amounts of amino acids in the food as well as the overall digestibility. PDCAAS values range from 0.0 to 1.0 with 1.0 being the highest score. Some sources may be higher than 1.0 through calculation but 1.0 is the highest value used for the determination of the corrected protein. A protein source with a PDCAAS value of 1.0 would generally be considered fully digestible in humans. Casein, whey, and eggs are protein sources that would average a 1.0 score or close to it. Protein sources such as grains and nuts have much lower PDCAAS values with scores anywhere from 0.2 to 0.6.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations in 21 CFR 101.9(c)(7)(ii), the PDCAAS is found by methods given in sections 5.4.1, 7.2.1, and 8.00 in the Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Protein Quality Evaluation. Accurate PDCAAS values require laboratory testing for amino acid levels and rat feeding studies to determine digestibility. The FDA does not provide the PDCAAS values for foods so if you are wanting to make a protein claim, you will need to obtain the PDCAAS value through research or testing.


The experts in AIB International's Food Labeling department are ready to help you. We can help calculate your corrected %DV, determine if you are able to make claims, and provide a Camera Ready Graphic with the corrected %DV included. Learn more about making a protein label claim today

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