The importance of recipe analysis training

“I have software, so I just need to input the numbers. Why do I need training?”

Calculating the nutrient content of foods can be a cost-effective alternative to chemical analysis.  This method, commonly referred to as recipe analysis or nutritional calculation, estimates nutrient content based on the quantity and composition of each ingredient, taking account of changes during processing.  Information on the nutrient content of each ingredient can be taken from standard food composition databases or from supplier data.

Nutritional analysis software is a wonderful tool for these calculations, providing results easily and quickly for nutrition labelling, calories on the menu, school meals, hospital catering and other applications.  However, recipe analysis is a skill, and producing nutrition information that is as accurate as possible and will not mislead customers or clients is not as simple as it first appears.

Factors that need to be considered when undertaking nutrition analysis calculations include:

  • Would the calculation procedure provide information that is sufficiently representative of the product’s composition? (In some cases, laboratory chemical analysis might be advisable.)
  • Can the recipe be analysed as a whole, or does it need to be broken down into sub-recipes (batch recipes)?
  • Is a complete and detailed copy of the recipe available, including the method, with all ingredients accurately described and fully quantified? This includes taking account of edible portion/waste and converting ingredient quantities to weight where necessary.
  • Which are the most appropriate nutrient values for the intended purpose, from the wide range of data sources available, including reference food composition databases and supplier values? Are robust data available and are there any missing nutrient values that will impact the accuracy of the calculation?
  • Does the calculation need to take account of weight changes (e.g. water absorption or evaporation losses) on cooking? If values are to be expressed per 100g (or any other weight) or used to assess compliance with HFSS criteria or for back of pack or front of pack (traffic light) labelling, it is essential that they are adjusted for yield.
  • If values for micronutrients (e.g. vitamins) are required, how can losses on processing be taken into account in the calculation?

These factors, and more, are explored in the Recipe Analysis: Maximising Accuracy training course. The course was set up about 15 years ago and has evolved to meet the training needs of food and nutrition professionals in a range of settings, including clinical, education, health and social care, food manufacturing and food service. The latest development has been the addition of an online version of the course, which has proved very popular and has enhanced the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of the training. Both the face-to-face and the virtual versions are highly practical and interactive, and the small group size and format encourage discussion, so that every course is different.  Follow-up and ongoing support is also available to attendees.

The course is endorsed for CPD, and an AfN CPD Assessor commented:

“This training will support registrants in enhancing their skills and it is fantastic that this is very practical based, going beyond just the theory and supporting the implementation of the skills into practice.”

In addition to the standard course, flexible training options are available, including both group training sessions and one-to-one online coaching. For further information about the course and other training options, take a look at our recipe analysis training page, or get in touch.

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