How does this nutritional info add up?
February 16, 2017 7:06 AM   Subscribe

My favorite chocolates claim that they have 250 calories per serving. But it doesn't add up...

On the amazon page (and on the physical box) they list the breakdown as:

250 calories (220 from fat)

25g fat (15 saturated)
15g cabohydrates
3g protein

(all values can be seen in the screenshots)

From what I understand about calorie counts per gram, that just doesn't add up.

Am I missing something?
posted by eas98 to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I see what you mean - if fat is 9 cal/gm and protein/carbs are 4 cal/gm, it adds up to more than 250 cal.

Perhaps they are excluding some of the carbohydrates as insoluble fiber, and the rest is rounding error.

Just guessing - no actual industry insider knowledge.
posted by metaseeker at 7:10 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They're using 8.8 calories/gram of fat, which appears right , and gives the 220 calories from fat they're advertising. Protein adds another 12 (3*4 calories/gram), which is 232. Looking at the 15g of carbs - assuming they're going with the fact that 5g is fibre and hence insoluable, the 5g of reported sugar adds 5*4 = 20 calories - which totals 252. I guess that's close enough to 250, since some rounding is allowed in labels as far as I know. However there's still another missing 5g of carbs that doesn't seem to be accounted for.
posted by cgg at 7:26 AM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: > some rounding is allowed in labels as far as I know

FDA labeling standards allow rounding -- below 50 calories total, to the nearest 5, and above 50 to the nearest 10 -- '250' means that they think the actual calorie count is between 250 and 254.9. To use the actual language of 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1), calories can be expressed "To the nearest 5-calorie increment up to and including 50 calories and to the nearest 10-calorie increment above 50 calories except that amounts less than 5 calories may be expressed as zero."

Appendix H has some further clarifications, and you can see from that that rounding is also allowed for the gram listings -- fats are rounded to the nearest half-gram or gram, depending on total content, as are carbohydrates and proteins. The total caloric rounding is supposed to be based on non-rounded gram figures; that is, the rounding doesn't compound -- you don't round the individual grams and then compute the total calories based on those rounded numbers, and then round the total calories; you calculate the total calories and components separately and then round them all up or down separately.

I haven't actually checked those numbers to see if they're within the rounding range on both sides, but my presumption would be that -- since the numbers everyone else here has come up with aren't that far off -- you are just seeing rounding effects, and things don't quite add up because the different parts of the label are each rounded independently of the other (which is good, but it makes it hard to work backwards from the given gram figures without putting some error bars around them because of the uncertainty in what the actual figures are). I don't want to say 'rounding errors,' here, because some variability in production and manufacturer is built into the labeling standards.
posted by cjelli at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately the nutritional information on these labels is frequently manipulated in such a way as to deceive consumers. For example I've seen a spray type veggie oil that has ZERO calories per serving! How did they do it? It is based on a 1/3 of a second spray serving size, which I guess is low enough that it rounds down to zero.
So I don't ever really trust the info to be accurate.
posted by peterpete at 9:47 AM on February 16, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. So, apart from rounding, the conclusion at this time is that 5g of insoluble fiber doesn't count as calories and another 5g of carbs are just not accounted for?
posted by eas98 at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2017

Calories at this level of error are pretty much irrelevant. To drop a pound of weight you need a deficit of 3500 kcals. If you are looking to control your weight you don't really need to pay attention to 10s of kcals. You need to pay attention the hundreds.

(I'm halfway to my new years goal of ditching 20lbs which is a 70,000 kcal deficit and it is killing me. I am so damn hungry!)
posted by srboisvert at 4:42 PM on February 16, 2017

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