Ice Cream Labeling

What Does It All Mean?

There are many choices in today's ice cream case to suit a wide variety of consumer tastes. There is plenty of information on food labels, but what does it really mean? Here is how ice cream and related products are labeled.

Labeling Definitions

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets standards of identity for many foods, including ice cream and frozen desserts, so that consumers will get a consistent product, no matter what brand or type they buy. FDA defines nutrient descriptors such as "light," "reduced fat" and "lowfat" so that consumers know exactly what they're selecting in terms of nutritional content. All labeling statements follow the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), which governs all food labeling.

Here are some of the terms consumers are seeing in the supermarket, and exactly what those terms mean:

Quality Segments

In addition, there are commonly used marketing phrases that describe ice cream products in terms of quality segments, such as "superpremium," "premium" and "economy." Several factors can contribute to a product's quality segment such as price, brand positioning, product packaging, quality of ingredients, milkfat content and the amount of overrun (air) in the product. Overrun refers to the amount of aeration the ice cream undergoes during its manufacture that keeps the mixture from becoming an inedible frozen mass. Overrun is governed by federal standards in that the finished product must not weigh less than 4.5 pounds per gallon.