What is a serving size for candy?
A common misconception is that a food’s serving size is based on how much of it people should consume. However, by law, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&CA), serving size is the amount of food customarily consumed (i.e., typically eaten) in one sitting for that food. Therefore, the serving size must be based on the amount of food people typically consume.
Serving sizes are based on “reference amounts customarily consumed” (RACCs), which are set forth in FDA’s regulations), as developed by FDA from data on how much of the food Americans are eating. The current RACC for most chocolate and candy is 30 grams, which is about 1 oz. Some candy products are less than this, for example, the RACC for hard candy is 15 grams and for after-dinner confectionery is 10 grams.
Serving sizes can get a bit tricky. Although they are based on the RACC amounts, they are not necessarily always the same. For example, single-serving containers are defined as products that contain up to twice the amount of the RACC; so, for most candy products, this is anything up to 60 grams. Additionally, the serving size is often set by the number of pieces of candy (or a household measure) that is closest to the RACC.
Finally, FDA requires that certain products containing 200-300% of the RACC carry dual-column labeling, with the nutrition information labeled both “per serving” and “per package.”
I’ve noticed the servings/nutrition information on some of my favorite candy products have changed, why?
In 2016, FDA announced changes to the Nutrition Facts panel and serving size requirements on food labels. A great overview of these changes can be found on FDA’s website. Changes include emphasizing the calories in the product, changes to the nutrients listed on the label, including the addition of “added sugars” and updates to RACCs, upon which serving sizes are based.
Candy was one of the few categories that actually had a decreased RACC, resulting in a lower serving size. Because people are eating slightly less candy per sitting on average now than they did 20 years ago, the RACC (and serving size) for candy products dropped from 40 grams to 30 grams. This has resulted in candy manufacturers needing to update the label information to reflect these new requirements.
What are added sugars?
In 2016, FDA announced that added sugars would be required on the Nutrition Facts panel to help increase consumer awareness about the quantity of added sugars in foods. Added sugars are sugars that are added to the food during processing. For example, ingredients like table sugar and agave are both considered added sugars. On the label, you will see the amount of added sugars in grams and as a percent Daily Value (DV). More information about added sugars can be found on FDA’s website.
For more information and resources that will help you better understand the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle, please visit Your Candy, Your Questions.