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    Frequently Asked Questions

    If you do not find the answer to your question here, please ask for help in our Contact Us link.

    Top Recipe FAQs

    How do I correct typos or errors in a recipe?

    We appreciate everyone's help in improving the recipes here. If the recipe has been published and you spot an error, click the "Submit a correction" link at the bottom of the recipe directions. If you spot a typo, missing ingredients or want to break up the steps listed, feel free to edit the recipe to make the change or add information. However, only the member who originally posted a recipe can make major updates to a recipe. Your suggested change won't show up immediately, but we will review the corrections and update the recipe as soon as possible.

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    How do I correct a recipe in the wrong category?

    Sometimes people select the wrong categories for their recipes when they submit them. If you find a recipe in an incorrect category, please submit a request to change or remove the category our Contact Us link. We will review your request and update the recipe as soon as possible.

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    How do you calculate nutrition information?

    Food.com uses the USDA nutritional information database, which classifies thousands of foods and gives their nutritional analysis, to compute the nutritional facts on our recipes.

    Nutritional totals are figured on a per-serving basis, including all foods in the ingredients list. We simply total the nutritional information for all foods in the ingredients of a recipe, and then divide by the number of servings it makes to arrive at the per-serving nutritional information. Please pay attention to what the serving size is that the Nutritional Facts are calculated on. If the person who posted the recipe does not provide servings information the Nutritional Facts will be calculated for the whole recipe.

    Ingredient sizing can vary. Some recipes specify an ingredient size as simple "1 can," "1 package," etc. Obviously, the size of the can or package you use may differ from the size the recipe author used. We encourage recipe authors to explicitly specify the exact size, but not all have. In these cases, Food.com assumes a standard size for the ingredient (10 3/4 ounces for a can of soup, for example) and uses this size to compute nutritional data.

    Optional ingredients or ingredients without discrete measurements are not included in the nutritional information. When an ingredient in a recipe does not have an explicit measurement, we cannot calculate nutritional data for it. We don't know if "salt, to taste" or "sour cream, to taste" means a teaspoon, a tablespoon or a cup to you. Therefore, we omit these ingredients from the nutritional computation. Likewise, if the ingredient is marked "optional," it is not included in the nutritional information.

    Specialty ingredients or branded products may not be recognized. The USDA nutrition information may not be updated with details on a specific packaged product or a specialty or diet ingredient.

    Our nutritional information is approximate (just like everyone else's). The USDA database is not complete and serving size information for many recipes is unknown, which leads to incomplete nutritional data. If you notice that a recipe isn't formatted correctly and that is affecting the nutrition analysis, we encourage you to submit corrections or add information to the recipe. You can do this by clicking the "Submit a correction" link at the bottom of the steps on any recipe.

    Always consult a registered dietician or your physician before embarking on any diet plan which relies on these numbers and for any other dietary questions.

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    Are recipes copyrightable? Can I post someone else's recipes?

    Copyright protects creative works (written or artistic). Though we think of cooking as art, that does not make a recipe copyrightable.

    "A mere listing of ingredients is not protected under copyright law. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection."

    — The Copyright Office of the US Government

    So, a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. An idea, concept, system or method of doing something cannot be copyrighted either. Only the substantially literary expression associated with a recipe can be copyrighted. To the extent there are only so many ways to say "boil water," it is not creative and therefore not protected under a copyright. If a recipe's directions or description are a wholesale copy of another person's creative literary expression, they are in violation of copyright. So even if the recipe originated elsewhere and even if the ingredients are still the same, as long as you post a recipe with your own directions and description, it is your recipe to share.

    The literary expression in a recipe's directions or description may be protected — if you can prove that it's truly creative. In other words, a lasagna recipe with three basic steps (i.e., cook the noodles, make the sauce and bake for an hour) is not copyrightable because it is obvious, not creative. A collection of recipes published in the unique presentation of a cookbook is copyrightable due to the choice of the collection and its arrangement, not the individual recipes themselves. For more information, download the US Government PDF on Copyright of Recipes.

    Where does Food.com stand? A list of ingredients is a list of ingredients; the government doesn't care if you make them your own and neither do we. But when it comes to other people's recipe descriptions and directions, don't copy the flowery stuff -- put it in your own words. You probably made the recipe, and you probably did it slightly differently than the original directions anyway. Describe what you did. If you copy the literary work of someone else, post it on Food.com, and they notify us with proof of the violation, we will immediately remove your recipe and you could be liable for damages. If someone else copies your recipes from our site and uses them, we would want to protect your original work and demand they be removed. So don't copy.

    However, we encourage our users to try recipes from other places, and post them to Food.com in their own words or with their own variations. We don't mind if you include information about where you got the recipe from as long as the description and directions are in your own words ("giving credit" is always the right thing to do). For more information, see our Terms of Use Agreement.

    If you suspect there is a violation of your copyright on our site, please contact us with the recipe ID # and/or a link to the recipe.

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    Who decides if a recipe is Low Carb, Low Fat, Vegetarian, etc.?

    Some of our Dietary categories are set by the person who posts the recipe (Diabetic-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Vegetarian and Vegan), but most are set automatically by Food.com after we have done the nutritional analysis on the recipe. See our standards for each category.

    Keep in mind that certain ingredients might be optional or there are other things with the recipe which affect the nutritional analysis.

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    Can I use trademarks/brand names in recipes?

    Brand name products are often protected in the United States by registering the name of the product with the US Trademark Office. If a name is trademarked (e.g. Food.com), the trademark can only be used in certain ways.

    You can always say that a recipe calls for a certain trademarked product in the ingredients list or directions, e.g. "1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman's)." This is basically free advertising for the company's specific product.

    You should not title or otherwise imply that your recipe is the same as a particular brand name's product, e.g. "Hellman's Mayonnaise Recipe." This would create confusion as to whether your recipe is the secret formula and endorsed by that company. However, you may include your opinions in your description for the recipe as long as it is clear it is your opinion, e.g. "I think this tastes as good as Hellman's."

    We do occasionally edit recipes to remove trademarked names used inappropriately at the request of the trademark owner.

    NOTE: Putting the "tm" next to the trademark name does not mean you have permission to use the name.

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    Why was a recipe marked as a duplicate and removed?

    We do not want duplicate recipes in our database. Duplicate recipes degrade our site's efficiency, annoy people searching for a recipe, and are unfair to the first person who posted a recipe.

    Before posting a new recipe or making a private recipe public, a member should perform a search to see if the recipe is already posted on Food.com. Mistakes happen sometimes and duplicates get through. You can notify us of potential duplicate recipes by clicking on the Contact Us link and we will evaluate the recipes.

    When a recipe is determined to be a duplicate, we remove it and redirect everyone to the primary recipe (usually the first one posted): (1) searches for the deleted recipe are automatically directed to the primary recipe; (2) cookbooks are updated to include the primary recipe; (3) any reviews and photos transfer to the primary recipe; (4) the person who posted the duplicate is notified.

    f yours is marked as a duplicate, we understand that the recipe might have sentimental value to you, and you might feel let down that your name is no longer on the recipe. If that is the case, we encourage you to post the recipe privately, so that you can privately store and print the recipe with your name and unique description.

    If you think your recipe was removed by mistake, use the Contact Us link and let us know why your recipe is not a duplicate, and we'll re-check your recipe.

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    Have another question? Ask us in our Contact Us link.

    Is there something we should be answering here, but don't? Let us know in the Contact Us link.

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