Health & Nutrient Label Claims


December 15, 2022 -

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes three types of health label claims: nutrient content, health, and structure/function. The intention of these claims is to inform and market to consumers based on scientific evidence supporting the health impact of product ingredients.

Nutrient Content Claims

A label claim that describes the nutritional content of a product such as "free" or "low". These claims can only be made for nutrients with an established percent daily value (%DV).

Comparing nutrient levels in a specific product

  • Light/Lite: at least 33% fewer calories or 50% less fat, sodium, or sugar
  • Reduced: at least 25% less of a specific nutrient compared to a referenced product
  • Free or Low: see table

Nutrient Levels per Serving Table





< 5 calories

< 40 Calories


< 0.5 grams

=/< 3 grams

Saturated Fat

< 0.5 grams

=/< 1 grams


< 2 milligrams

< 20 milligrams


< 5 milligrams

=/< 140 milligrams


< 0.5 grams

=/< 3 grams

Health Claims

A label claim that relates a specific food or food component to lowering the risk of disease or health-related condition.

All health claims must:

  • Be limited to disease or health-related condition risk reduction claims
  • Not suggest diagnosis, cure, mitigation or treatment of disease
  • Be evaluated and approved by the FDA prior to use and marketing. 

Example: The consumption of oats lowers cholesterol and is therefore a “Heart Healthy” food

Structure/Function Claims

Label claims that provides general health information in relation to the product. These are less stringently regulated by the FDA but a company has to provide evidence supporting their claim before it is approved. 

Examples: “Calcium Builds Strong Bones” or “Antioxidants Help Boost the Immune System.”

The Percent Daily Value (%DV)

A percentage of nutrients in a single serving size of food, generally based off a 2,000-calorie adult diet. 





20% of more

Nutrients that generally should be “high” are fiber, vitamins, minerals (calcium, iron, potassium)

Good Source Of

10 – 19%

Nutrients that generally should be “good source of” are fiber, vitamins, minerals (calcium, iron, potassium)


5% of lower

Nutrients that generally should be “low” are saturated fats, sodium and added sugars

When something is reduced or removed in a product, something may be added for flavor (fat free items may have increased sugar). Some nutrients, such as protein, trans fats and total sugars, do not have a %DV reported on the label.

For more information, visit MSU Extension's Food Label Claims page.


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