New additions to menu labeling requirements

The demand for nutrition facts has increased and it appears the FDA menu labeling requirement act has met that demand.

New additions to menu labeling requirements

Good news, eating healthy is on the rise in America. We are getting better at understanding the purpose of nutrients and how to balance calories with what our bodies need to operate at peak performance. With this shifting mindset, the demand for more nutrition facts has increased along with the joy of eating out without the guilt of undoing everything we have worked for. It appears our demands have been met with the creation and implementation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Menu Labeling Requirement Act. Here is what consumers can look for regarding nutrition labeling on menus as of May 2017.

Any restaurant, cafeteria, bakery, coffee shop or establishment selling food or beverages at 20 or more locations (under the same name) must abide by the new regulations. Any business or individual that operates vending machines at more than 20 locations are also required to visibly post nutrition information about the food items in the machines. Currently, food trucks are not required to follow the menu labeling requirements.

Most food establishments will be required to adhere to the following:

  • All menus and menu boards that consumers look at to make orders, must have the calories listed for each food item, including all alcoholic beverages.
  • All carryout menus and discount coupons that list a phone number or website of an establishment must also contain the number of calories for the food items.  
  • The words “Calories” or “Cal” must be used to identify what the number is referring to.
  • The calorie count must be in the same color and font size as the name of the food item.
  • The calories that are listed must represent the item size that is sold unless the establishment specifically states the number of servings that are given. If the serving size is given, an establishment may use the calorie count for one serving. It must be clearly noted which calorie number is used; item size or serving size. For example, a menu can say “10-inch cheese pizza, 1800 calories”, or “10-inch pizza 300 calories per slice, 6 slices”.

In addition to listing calories on a menu, the nutrition information must be available upon request. Menus must state “Additional nutrition information available upon request.” This applies to all food items that are regularly served particularly those that make health claims such as “high in vitamin C” or “heart healthy.”

If food is on display (e.g. a salad bar) or it is a self-serve operation, and the establishment has 20 or more operations, the establishment is required to post the calorie information for each food item. Labels with the food name and calories must be placed in close proximity to the food item and clearly associated with the item.

The goal of this regulation is to inform consumers of what they are eating and hopefully help consumers make healthier decisions when dining out. The final regulation was established December 2014 for chain restaurants. In December of 2015, the regulation was expanded to grocery stores and movie theaters. By May 5th, 2017 the law will require any food service operation with 20 or more locations to have calorie labeling posted. For the complete list of regulations and commonly asked questions click here.

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