This guide gives you details on how to use the Nutrition Panel Calculator (NPC).
Learn how to create recipes, add ingredients and define other aspects of your recipe to produce a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP).
On this page
Saving and restoring recipes
Before creating your NIP, it's important to understand how and where the NPC saves your work.
Your recipe and any custom ingredients save when you manually select one of two save options:
- The Save and Close button on the Build recipe & NIP screen - a file of all of your recipes and custom ingredients at that point generates and saves to your browser cache. If you clear your cache or update your browser, the files will delete. If you change browser or use a different computer, you can't access these files.
- The Backup recipes button on the Manage personal recipes screen - a file generates and saves to the downloads folder on your computer. It'll have all of your recipes and custom ingredients at that point.
You'll need backup files to restore your recipes and custom ingredients, and share or move files to a different browser or computer. Each time data backs up, it creates a new file which reflects your data at that point.
The files generated through the NPC are in .txt format. They'll have a name starting with the date and a unique 9-digit numeric code following with the words NPC-Backup. An example is 11-06-2020-15-48-39-468-NPC-Backup.txt. You can rename and save the files to other locations if you choose to do so. You'll have to keep the '.txt' at the end of the file name. If you change it, you risk corrupting the file.
You may wish to restore a list of available recipes if:
- you're working on a new computer where you're using the NPC for the first time
- your browser's cache has been cleared
- you have multiple sets of recipes you're working with and would like to change between sets.
When you choose to restore recipes, you'll be prompted to browse for the .txt file you wish to re-import. Once you restore a file, the available recipes list will populate with the recipes and custom ingredients in the backup file. It'll also replace any recipes or custom ingredients which were in use. Ensure you create a backup of any current recipes or they may be lost.
The Manage personal recipes screen
This screen is where you start the recipe development process. On this screen you can choose to do all of the following.
Load an existing recipe
Select the recipe you would like to work on from the list of your available recipes. The Build recipe & NIP screen will open ready for you to add your ingredients. You can also search, sort, copy and delete your existing recipes.
Create a new recipe
Enter the name of your recipe and click create. The Build recipe & NIP screen will open ready for you to add your ingredients.
Backup your recipes
Select the backup button to create a file which contains all of the details for your recipes. This creates a copy of your recipes for safe keeping and can be loaded back into the NPC if you want to make any updates.
Restore recipes you have backed up
If you created a backup of your recipes and want to work on them again, select restore. It allows you to locate the backup file that saves your computer and reloads those recipes into the NPC.
Read more about saving and restoring recipes.
The Build recipe & NIP screen
Use this screen to develop a recipe and calculate the NIP values in three steps.
Step 1: Create recipe by adding ingredients and amounts
The first step of creating your NIP is to search for the ingredients you use in your recipe to make your final product. The search returns results from the NPC database as well as any custom ingredients you have created. The energy and nutrient values display as 100 g of each food. You can select an ingredient to show more detail.
Once you add your ingredients, enter the amount of each ingredient. You must enter amounts in grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres. You'll need to convert common household measures such as cups or tablespoons into one of the available units.
Read about converting household measures into gram weights.
The values you see for each ingredient in this working table represent how much each ingredient contributes to the overall energy and nutrient values for 100 g of the recipe. This allows you to see how each ingredient contributes to the total content of each nutrient and energy. Rounding and application of significant figures requirements takes place in Step 3.
More information on how these values are derived is on the Calculations in the NPC page.
The working table also allows you to delete individual ingredients or clear the entire list of ingredients.
Step 2: Enter recipe weights
Now that all of your ingredients have been added to your recipe, the next step is to make any changes to the weight of your recipe if it has been cooked.
The Initial weight is the total weight of your ingoing ingredients and is calculated by the NPC.
The NPC does all of its calculations using grams. So when you enter an ingredient in kilograms, millilitres or litres, the NPC converts the measure into grams. The converted value is used to determine the Initial weight. For liquid measures (mL or L), the specific gravity assigned in the NPC database is used to calculate the weight in grams.
For example, 100 mL of honey doesn't weigh 100 grams, it weighs 143 g. You calculate it using the equation below:
Weight in millilitres x specific gravity = weight in grams
100 mL honey x 1.43 = 143 g honey
In this case, the amount you enter will be 100 mL of honey and the initial weight will display as 143 g.
Note: For the NPC to calculate the final NIP, you need to enter the Final weight or Weight change.
As you enter a value into one of these fields, the other field is automatically calculated.
If your product is uncooked, or was made using all cooked ingredients, the final weight is the same as the initial weight. If you cook or dry your product, the weight of your recipe will change because these processes often result in either gains or losses in water or both. In these cases you'll need to work out the final weight or weight change of your food.
Step 3: Generate the NIP
The final step is to enter the Serve size and Serves per package.
These should be worked out based on the total weight of your pack. For example:
Total weight of your pack: 100 g
Serve Size (you think half a pack is a reasonable serve size): 50 g
Serves per package (100 g divided by 50 g): 2
If your final product is a liquid or semi-solid such as custard, the average quantity in a serving must be expressed in millilitres (mL) in the NIP. This is outlined in paragraph 6(1)(b) of Standard 1.2.8 of the Code.
In other words, nutrient values in the NIP should be presented per 100 mL and per serve size in mL.
When the millilitre or litre units are selected for the Serve size, the Specific gravity box will appear for you to complete (see image below). The specific gravity is used to convert the nutrient values present in a 100 g portion of a liquid food to a 100 mL portion, for inclusion on your NIP.
And that's it! Your NIP is complete. You can print, save or copy it as you wish.
You can return to the Manage personal recipes screen to backup your work or start another recipe.
Converting household measures into gram weights
When creating your product in real life, you may use items such as measuring cups and spoons rather than adding ingredients based on weight. For example:
Your recipe may call for one cup of plain white flour. However, the NPC requires ingredient amounts be entered as grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres. So how much does one cup of plain white flour weigh?
1 cup = 250 mL but the density of plain white flour is 0.54.
To get the weight in grams, multiply 250 mL by 0.54:
250 x 0.54 = 135 g
When using the NPC, you would enter an amount of 135 g if you add 1 cup of plain white flour.
You may be able to select a density from our list of common densities contained in the AUSNUT 2011-13 food measures database.
Calculating edible portion
Nutrient values presented in the NPC are per 100 g edible portion (EP). The EP is the part of the food that can be eaten once inedible parts have been removed. Inedible components may include:
- bones, connective tissue and gristle of meat and poultry
- head, scales, skin and guts of fish
- shells of shellfish, eggs and nuts
- peel, seeds, stems, cores and outer leaves of fruit and vegetables
- brine or packaging liquid in canned and jarred products.
When producing an NIP, make sure that the quantity of each ingredient in your product is specified in terms of its EP. You only need to calculate the percentage EP (%EP) of a particular food once. You can then use this same factor to get the edible component of any nominated quantity of that food 'as purchased'. For example, including both edible and inedible components.
Example steps for lamb chops
a) Make a note of the weight of the lamb chops before and after trimming any inedible components including bone and gristle.
For example, assume that you start with 200 g of lamb chops. After trimming, the edible component weighs only 158 g.
The %EP is calculated as follows:
EP = Weight of edible component ÷ Total initial weight × 100
= 158 ÷ 200 × 100
b) Having calculated the %EP, it is now possible to calculate the edible component of any nominated quantity of the same food as purchased, using the following equation:
%EP x quantity of as purchased food = Edible component
For example, assume you're now interested in calculating the edible portion of 500 g of lamb chops 'as purchased':
(79 ÷ 100) × 500 g = 395 g
The edible portion (raw) of 500 g of the lamb chops as purchased will be 395 g.
c) If you need to estimate the cooked edible component from a known weight of the raw as purchased food, you need to combine the percentage weight loss, on cooking, with the edible component as a proportion of the cooked food, as follows:
Quantity of raw 'as purchased' food x (%EP of cooked food) x (100 ÷ % weight loss) ÷ 100
= Cooked edible component as a proportion of the raw 'as purchased' food
We will again use the 500 g of raw lamb chops as purchased as an example. We will assume a weight loss factor of -31% and use an EP of the cooked lamb chops of 79%:
500 × (79 ÷ 100) x (100 - 31) ÷ 100 = 273 g cooked
The cooked edible component of 500 g of lamb chops as purchased will be 273 g.
Calculating the final weight or weight change
Whether your recipe is cooked or not, for the NPC to calculate the final NIP, you'll need to enter the final weight or weight change.
If you cook or dry your product, the weight of your recipe will change because of these processes which often result in changes to water or fat or both. The NPC assumes that any weight change is due exclusively to water.
Weight changes in cooking can be influenced by a number of factors. For example, the degree of change can depend on the type of processing equipment used. Even the absence of a saucepan lid can have a big impact on the weight. This is very apparent in a cooked food like a stew, due to evaporation of water. The degree of weight change can also depend on the:
- surface area of the food
- processing time
- cooking temperatures.
Use one of the following methods to determine the final weight.
If your product is uncooked, or if you choose cooked ingredients, then simply enter the initial weight into the final weight field. The weight change will automatically be set to zero.
You can weigh your batch of cooked food and type the weight, in grams, into the final weight box. Make sure the final weight looks sensible compared to the initial weight. For example, you could expect most baked products to lose weight. This is the more accurate of the two options.
You can type in a weight change factor in the weight change box. A list of common weight change factors is available for you to select from.
Weight change factors may be negative (example -15) where a food loses moisture during cooking such as baking. A positive weight change factor (example 10) indicates that a food gains moisture during cooking such as boiling.
You can't enter a weight change factor that is -100% or greater. This results in a product with a final weight of zero and will return a validation error message.
See other processing practices for further information regarding the effect of moisture changes on the nutrient composition of foods.
FSANZ list of weight change factors
To assist you, we have a table of weight change factors. These weight change factors have been drawn from numerous local and overseas sources 13,19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28. We don't have values for some food groups due to the great variety in these groups.
You should note that these weight change factors are based on domestic food measures and cooking situations. You should use these factors with caution. Because they don't account for industrial processes where processing is in bulk amounts or they're only partially hydrated.
The weight change factors in the list are indicative only. You should only use them as a guide. It's better to calculate your own weight change factor using the following equation:
Weight change factor (%) = (Weight of cooked food - Weight of raw food) ÷ Weight of raw food × 100
As an example, assume that you start with 100 g of the raw food X. After cooking it weighs 300 g. The weight change factor can be calculated as follows:
(300 - 100) ÷ 100 × 100 = 200%
A weight change factor of 200% does not indicate that the food doubles in weight. Rather, the food gains twice its original weight on cooking and it has tripled in weight.
You don't have to calculate a weight change factor. Simply make notes of your own recipe weights for before and after cooking. Then type the final weight into the NPC.
Download a list of common weight change factors on our NPC database files and supporting documents page.
Paragraph 5(1)(b) of Standard 1.2.8 requires that the average quantity of a beverage or other liquid food in a serving must be expressed in millilitres in your NIP.
In the NPC, specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of an amount of a liquid compared to the same amount of water. For example, it is known that 100 mL of cold water weighs 100 g. In comparison, 100 mL of honey weighs 143 g. By dividing the weight of the honey by the weight of the water, we get the specific gravity of honey: 1.43.
The specific gravity of a liquid can vary for a number of reasons. The specific gravity can increase or decrease depending on what is in it. It increases with the amount of solids, such as sugars. It decreases with the amount of alcohol and fat present in a liquid, or air present in a whipped ingredient. It can also vary with the temperature of the ingredient. The way you pack the food in the measuring instrument can influence it. For example how tightly packed the brown sugar is in the measuring cup.
The specific gravity is relevant at two places in the NPC and will likely not be the same at both places.
Specific gravity in step 1
In step 1 of the calculations, you have the option to add ingredients in g, kg, mL and L units. The NPC does all calculations in step 1 using gram weights. So if you choose to enter an ingredient in mL or L, you must convert these values to grams. All liquid ingredients in FSANZ database have been allocated a specific gravity to allow this conversion. If you create a custom ingredient that is a liquid, you must enter a specific gravity if you plan to add the ingredient using the mL or L units.
Specific gravity in step 3
In step 3 of the calculations, you can select a serve size for your final product that is in g, kg, mL or L units. If you select mL or L units, you must then enter a specific gravity to allow the NPC to convert your NIP values from per 100 g to per 100 mL.
Specfic gravity difference examples
The specific gravity value in step 1 is different to the specific gravity value in step 3 in a banana milkshake, as set out below.
|Specific gravity value
Regular fat milk
Common specific gravities
The specific gravities we have here derive from several recognised literature sources 29, 30 and are exactly the same as those provided in the NPC. These values are provided solely as a guide. It is better to calculate your own specific gravity value for your recipe using the Final weight of your product and its corresponding volume and the following equation:
Specific gravity (g/mL) = weight of 100 mL of food ÷ 100
Read more about common specific gravities on our NPC database files and supporting documents page.
Creating custom ingredients
We've developed a database to support the NPC containing average values for a range of foods. We intend you use these values if you don't have data on foods you're using to make your final product. You should consider creating a custom ingredient if you:
- have nutrition information for foods you have used in your recipe
- are using a food that isn't in our database and you have an alternative data source.
When you add a custom ingredient, it'll automatically be stored as one of your custom ingredients and will be displayed as a search result for you to add to future recipes.
Only you can use your custom ingredients. They don't become part of our NPC database.
If you obtain nutrient data from another source, make sure:
- you have values for energy and the six mandatory nutrients
- the values are per 100 g edible portion, if you have data for a liquid food that is provided per 100 mL, multiply the per 100 mL values by the specific gravity to get per 100 g values
- the Saturated fat is less than or equal to the Total fat
- the Sugars are less than or equal to the Carbohydrates
- the sum of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate are less than 100 g
- the data meet the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Make sure that the carbohydrate values have been derived by one of the two methods specified in clause 1 of Standard 1.2.8. Make sure that the correct energy factors have been used to calculate the total energy. See Standard 1.1.1 and Standard 1.2.8 of the Code.
You can create a custom ingredient on the Manage recipe ingredients page as part of step 1. You can copy and delete stored custom ingredients in the search results box of step 1.
Special notes for boiled, fried, baked and fermented foods
The NPC has limits when the preparation of your food involves certain cooking, preparation or processing methods. The following sections have advice on what you can do to use the NPC to obtain a representative NIP.
Boiling dry foods such as rice, pasta and dried legumes will result in a net weight gain because they absorb water. Steaming a raw food may also result in a weight gain due to absorbed water. The weight gain during steaming may not be the same as the weight gain that occurs during boiling.
There are two methods to calculate a NIP that will take into account the absorbed water.
Method 1 - select the boiled or cooked ingredient
Step 1 of the maintain recipe ingredients screen is when you select the ingredients for your recipe. So instead of selecting the raw version, select the cooked version. For example, instead of selecting Pasta, white wheat flour-based, dry, select Pasta, white wheat-flour based, boiled from dry, no added salt. This is the preferred method. The results you get using this method will probably be better than those you would get using method 2. However, you should note that the extent of the water absorption depends on your particular processing conditions. For example, the size of the cooking container and whether or not you use a covering will effect water absorption.
Use this method when an ingredient must be boiled or cooked before it is added to a recipe requiring further cooking. A lasagne is a good example of this. In this case, the boiled or cooked ingredient would be the pasta, which is then added to the lasagne and baked.
Method 2 - select the uncooked ingredient and add a weight change
This method may be useful if you can't find a suitable cooked version on the NPC. At step 1 of the maintain recipe ingredients screen when you select the ingredients for your recipe, select the uncooked version. For example, select Pasta, white wheat-flour based, dry and enter the uncooked weight for example 500 g. You don't need to add the boiling water as a second ingredient.
At step 2, enter a final weight or weight change for the boiled food. For example, for 500 g of dry pasta which has been boiled, a weight change of 131% would be entered resulting in a final weight of 1155 g.
Or you can weigh your boiled ingredient and enter the result as the final weight.
You can also use this method when an ingredient must be boiled or cooked before it is added to a recipe requiring further cooking. Using the lasagne example, follow the steps above to create an NIP for your cooked pasta. You can then use this data to create a custom ingredient for boiled pasta and add it as an ingredient to your recipe.
Adding salt to the cooking water
Most of the boiled or cooked ingredients in the NPC are without added salt. If your recipe requires you to add salt to the cooking water, it's important to note that not all of this salt will end up in your food.
Salt, or sodium chloride is made up of 39.3% sodium and 60.7% chloride. Salt is normally added to the cooking water to make up a 0.5% salt solution13. A 0.5% salt solution increases the sodium content of a cooked food by approximately 80 mg per 100 g. This is assuming your food started off unsalted.
So how much salt do you need to add to your current ingredients list to get the desired sodium increase of 80 mg per 100 g of boiled food, for your NIP?
The trick is to work out how much sodium chloride contains 80 mg of sodium.
If there are 39.337 mg of sodium in 100 mg of sodium chloride, then by doing a simple cross-multiplication, there will be 80 mg of sodium in 203 mg of sodium chloride.
So, when using the NPC, first, select the boiled ingredient. Then add it to your current ingredients list.
Then select salt and add an amount of 203 mg (which is the same as 0.2 g) for every 100 g of your boiled food. For example for pasta, use the following equation to calculate the amount of salt:
Amount of salt (g) = Amount of boiled pasta (g) x amount of salt per 100 g of food (g)
100 = 1000 g x 0.2 g
100 = 2 g
Frying foods such as potato chips and meat will result in a weight change due to loss of water and absorption of cooking fat or oil. The NPC can't calculate a NIP for fried foods without you doing some manual adjustments first. This is because it can't determine how much cooking fat will be absorbed by a particular food.
Given the NPC's limits, the preferred method of producing an NIP for a fried food is to have the nutrient content of your fried food determined by laboratory analysis. We strongly recommend you make use of this option wherever possible.
The following technique helps get around the problem that not all of the cooking fat used in the recipe for frying will be absorbed by the food.
In this scenario, you have fried regular potato chips in peanut oil, which resulted in a final weight of 250 g.
a) Find a weight change factor.
Choose a weight change factor that describes your fried food.
In this example, the weight change factor for fried chips is -27.0%.
b) Work out the weight of ingoing ingredients.
Manually calculate the initial weight of the ingoing ingredients to get the final weight of the cooked chips of 250 g using the weight change factor you just found and the following formula:
(Final weight x 100) ÷ (100 - weight change factor) = Initial weight of ingoing ingredients
(250 x 100) ÷ (100 - 27) = 343 g of ingoing ingredients
These calculations show that to obtain a final weight of the cooked chips of 250 g, 343 g of raw potatoes and oil were required.
At this stage, we don't know what proportion of each makes up the finished product. This is what we are trying to find out.
c) Add the ingredients.
On the Maintain recipe ingredients screen at step 1, add the uncooked potato ingredient. Add a temporary yet sensible Amount, in this case say 300 g, which you will later change. Note down the total fat content.
d) Search for the frying fat used.
On the Maintain recipe ingredients screen at step 1, search for the frying fat. Add this to your ingredient list with a temporary ingoing amount, in this case say 43 g, to make up the total ingoing weight of 343 g, which you will later change.
In this example, you would select the raw ingredients 'POTATO, SEBAGO, PEELED, RAW' (food id 13A11490), with a total fat of 0.2 g and 'OIL, PEANUT' (food id 04C10061).
e) Look for a similar cooked product.
In this example, an appropriate fried version would be 'F007236: Potato, chips, regular, fast food outlet, deep fried, monounsaturated oil, salted, from Release 1. This chip is fried using monounsaturated oil as the frying medium, and is appropriate because peanut is also a monounsaturated oil. The total fat content is 12.2 g per 100 g.
The ingoing quantities of potatoes and oil must now be manipulated to reflect a total fat content of 12.3 g per 100 g, as shown in the nutrition information panel.
f) Enter the serve size and serves per package.
This is necessary so that the NPC has all of the mandatory information required to calculate the NIP as you adjust the ingredient amounts in the next step.
Read more about serve sizes.
g) Adjust ingredient amounts.
Use the total weight of the ingoing ingredients to begin your adjustment. This is the initial weight as a constant, in this case it’s 343 g. Now, incrementally adjust the amount of both ingredients in opposite directions. The aim is to obtain a total fat value of 12.3 g per 100 g in the NIP.
In this example, you started with 300 g of raw potato and 43 g of peanut oil. Now edit each ingredient amount in turn, in opposite directions, making sure the initial weight stays the same, in this case 343 g. As you make the changes to the amounts, the NIP is automatically recalculating, so you can easily see the total fat change as you adjust the ingredient amounts.
Using this process you will find that you need 312.5 g of raw potato and 30.5 g of peanut oil to produce 250 g of cooked chips with a total fat content of approximately 12.2 g per 100 g, as shown in the NIP.
This example highlights how frying foods such as potato chips can result in a substantial weight change due to the loss of water and absorption of cooking fat or oil.
There are many processing practices apart from boiling and frying that may result in changes to the nutrient composition of the finished product14. These include, but aren't limited to those listed below. The NPC isn't able to adjust nutrient values to account for any changes in composition to the raw ingredient that may occur as a result of these practices. Such changes may be highly variable depending on the specific product and the particular processing method employed. If you feel that the NPC may not accurately represent your product, we suggest that you have the nutrient content of your fried food determined by laboratory analysis wherever possible.
Baking may affect carbohydrate and thus energy levels. During baking, some of the starch in the food for example baked potatoes, may be converted into a form of unavailable carbohydrate known as 'resistant starch'. This may result in a slight reduction of the available carbohydrate, and thus energy, in the finished product.
Also during baking, carbohydrates may participate in a range of browning reactions. In the finished product, this again leads to a slight reduction in available:
- sugars (and thus energy)
- or both.
Fermentation may also have an effect on carbohydrate, and thus energy levels. The final carbohydrate content of the fermented product depends on the extent of fermentation. Fermentation generally involves the conversion of sugars, which are a carbohydrate component, into gases, alcohols and acids, the latter is often carbon dioxide and organic acids such as lactic acid.
Fermentation takes place in the production of yeasted baked goods. It results in all of the following:
- the conversion of starch to resistant starch or sucrose
- the conversion of sucrose to glucose
- the conversion of glucose to carbon dioxide in sour dough breads, wines and beers, sauerkrauts and other fermented vegetables, yogurts, cheeses, and other fermented dairy goods.
The NPC includes nutrient values for many of the above fermented foods. If one of your ingredients is a fermented food, using the already fermented, rather than the raw or unfermented version from the NPC is probably a better option. Having said this, it is important to note that the final carbohydrate content of the fermented product depends on the extent of fermentation. So, NPC values may not always adequately represent your product.
Considering all of this, you can expect to obtain better results selecting the fermented version rather than the unfermented version from the NPC.
Soaking, washing, rinsing and draining
The nutrient composition of foods may also be affected by soaking, washing, rinsing and draining. For example, this may affect cereal foods such as pasta and rice, where these process may remove carbohydrates which impacts the energy.
Some ingredients may be supplied packed in brine such as vine leaves, or salt such as capers. So you may need to wash and rinse these ingredients before using them in a recipe. In this instance, the extent of washing or rinsing may affect the amount of sodium, a component of salt or sodium chloride remaining.
Draining brine or oil from canned and bottled products, such as canned fish, can also affect the final nutrient values of your product. This depends on how much of this fluid is drained off.
In any of the situations we describe above, it’s important to note, NPC values may not always adequately represent your product.
Trimming of fats
Any fat trimmed off meat carcasses or cuts, including poultry, may impact the fat content of your final product.
We recommend taking great care when selecting trimmed meat cuts from the NPC to choose the one that best reflects your ingredient.