Who governs Serving Size?

Okay, this may apply in the MPSIMS forums more than it does here, but I often wonder who makes up the rules for what constitutes a serving size on the label of any given food.

I don’t eat potato chips often, but if memory serves me correctly on some labels it says one serving equals about 12 chips. The weird thing is, in most chip bags there are tiny little slivers of chips. Do those count as part of the serving? Also, potato chips vary in size and some are more cooked than others.

Even on a can of butter flavor of Pam, it says and I quote " Serving Size about 1/3 Second Spray (.266g) Where did they come up with this figure? What if some air comes out before it starts to actually spray? What if the contents had not been shaken in a proper manner? How does one count a 1/3 of a second?

Do they pole people from all walks of life then come up with an average figure to determine serving size? Or, is this something that the government has studied to great detail to determine this factor?

Hmmmm, any thoughts?

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I think food manufacturers have some leeway to make the nutritional info as appealing as possibe. I seem to recall one of the diet sodas listing a serving size of 6 oz. on a 12 oz can (yeah, right) because a full 12 oz. had something like 0.9 calorie; if they halved the suggested serving size it had less than half a calorie so they could round down and tout it as zero calorie.

I think the FDA has cracked down on that a bit. Foods sold in a container that is meant to be eaten in one serving are supposed to list that as a serving size; all the 12 oz. soda cans I’ve looked at lately do list 12 oz as the serving size.

There is still some leeway, though.
A “regular” M&Ms packet contains exactly 1 serving; a King-Size M&Ms packet has 2 servings which are IIRC, slightly smaller than one “regular” packet.

For something like chips; the determining measurements would actually be in oz./grams and then “converted” to a typical # chips for illustrative purposes.

Sue from El Paso

I remenber Otis Spunkmeyer muffins listed serving size as 1/2 a muffin (they had a rather large number of calories for a single muffin, so…). Who’s going to eat half of it? I don’t know if they still do, due to the FDA rule mentioned by Majormd.

The FDA’s special assistant:
Callista Flockhart.


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The Nutritional Legislation and Enforcement Act of (I Think) 1993 governs serving size.

IIRC the FDA got lots and lots of people together and tried to determine what an “average” or “fair” serving was. I do know that the “low fat granola” people got in a heap o’ trouble bacause they had to about triple their serving size and it turned out not to be so low in fat. The NLEA also is incharge of those “Nutrition Facts” labels.

In response to the question, I think they are speaking of whole chips. In other words, if you eat 4 pieces together, and those 4 are about the size of one whole chip, count that as 1.

Anybody here remember when Pepsi counted a single can as two servings? I’m sure I can remember someone who claimed one of their cans was 2.5 servings. I’m sure that this was so they could claim it was zero caleries.

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I dont think serving size has anything to do with how much you should eat, it more of a baseline to tell you the nutritional information (which they are required by law to do) So instead of telling you that package of 40 oreos has 5600 calories and 280 grams of fat, etc. they will tell you a serving is 2 cookies containing 140 calories and 7 grams of fat. Makes it more appealing huh?

oh nuts! NOW I find out that 4 potato chip pieces equal an entire chip!!! I always thought in broken chips ( and cookies) the calories fell out! ;0

One must learn by doing things; for though you think you know it you have no certainty until you try.

Serving size is what size an average person should eat at the rate of 2000 [?] calories per day.

I guess they take all the men & women & children & average them out & come up with that they need 2000 calories a day.

personally,I eat more than the allotted serving sizes. I suspect they make the sizes so small so people will think they’re not getting too many calories. As long as they eat a fingernail-sized piece!

There is a (large) FDA document which covers serving size. I posted some excerpts and a link in another thread (which I just found since the search engine doesn’t work). Check http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/002245.html

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The Roach Coach I used to infrequent had a small, fried breakfast-snack - definitely a single serving in The Real World - that listed itself at four servings per container, 30% of your Saturated Fat RDA per serving. But didn’t you know? It’s okay, as long as you don’t read labels.

(And I agree with the other commentators that there was some press last year or two years ago that the FDA was cracking down on that kind of fraud, essentially at the same time as they came out with the new instructions on labelling. Stuff like, supposedly, the customer has to be able to read the nutritional info. without aid of a microscope.)