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Serving size is the amount of a food or drink that is generally served. It is found both on the Food Pyramid and its successor program MyPlate and on Nutrition Labels and has two related but differing meanings. The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion sets the standards for these meanings in the United States.
Nutrition Facts label is designed to give consumers important nutritional information about a product and allow comparisons with other food. The serving size indicates the amount of food that the nutrition information applies to. However, the label is not meant for direct comparison with the Food Pyramid's recommended servings. For example, a serving of milk may be 1 cup on the Food Pyramid, but 1/2 cup on the nutrition facts label. Also, a serving size according to a package may bear little resemblance to the amount of the food which most people eat at a time. Serving sizes on food labels are determined by the FDA, and based on surveys conducted in the 1970s and 80's concerning how much food people typically eat.
Bulk products, such as sugar, generally have sizes in common units of measurement, such as the cup or tablespoon. Commonly divided products, such as pie or cake, have a serving size given in a fraction of the whole product (e.g., 1/8 pizza).Products which are sliced beforehand or are bought in distinct, grouped units (such as olives), are listed in the approximate number of units corresponding to the reference amount. For example, if the reference amount for olives were 30 g, and one olive weighed 10 g, the serving size would probably be listed as three olives.