A common question we get is if a food vendor has to submit their food product to a laboratory for nutrition for analysis.
The FDA has said the following in their guidance document:
N37. Is there a problem with using ingredient composition data bases to calculate the values for nutrition labeling?
Answer: If manufacturers choose to use ingredient data bases, they should be assured of the accuracy of the databases and validate the resulting calculations by comparing them with values for the same foods obtained from laboratory analyses. Manufacturers are responsible for the accuracy of the nutrition labeling values on their products. Although FDA specifies the laboratory methods that will be used to evaluate the accuracy of the labeled products, FDA does not specify acceptable sources for the labeled values.
Basically the FDA says that if you do choose to use an ingredient database, be sure of the accuracy of the database. Most nutrition labeling vendors base their information on the USDA SR Nutrition Database. For each ingredient in the database, the USDA has done their own comprehensive lab testing for most common ingredients.
In short, if your food product consists of mainly common food ingredients then you are pretty good to use Menutail or another nutrition labeling database that is backed by USDA SR-26. If your food product is fairly complex, then you might need to send it in to a lab. We recommend the following lab: