Food for Thought: The basics of the newly required restaurant menu labeling

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Restaurant Menu Labeling RegulationsIf you have been successful enough to open and operate more than 20 restaurants, vending machines, or other food establishments (including delis and self-serve buffets in grocery stores), things are going to get a little more complicated.

The FDA has issued draft guidance on restaurant menu labeling, however, the enforcement date has been moved (again) to one year after the final guidance is issued.

Essentially, the rules say (1) you have to boldly declare calorie content on your menu or menu board, and (2) you have to have readily available information for:

  • Calories
  • Calories from fat
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrate
  • Dietary fiber
  • Sugars
  • Protein

The rules aren’t overly concerned with the format on how the calories should be displayed on a menu board (size, color, etc.), other than it has to be obvious. Namely, the calories for each item must be “clearly associated with” and “adjacent to” the name or picture of the standard menu item AND the font size for the calorie display must be the same or larger than that used for the price or the name (whichever is smaller).

The color used and contrast with the background must also be similar or similarly conspicuous.
You will also have to put somewhere near the bottom of your menu or menu board the following statement or one similar to: “A 2,000 calorie daily diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.”

Good news: The layout for the additional nutrients can look however you want.

How to get nutritional analysis

There are a variety of methods you can use to obtain your nutritional analysis: Nutrient analysis software, cookbooks, laboratory analysis, existing Nutrition Facts Labels, etc.

The FDA is concerned with accuracy and reasonable steps to taken to obtain the analyses. Whichever method you choose, it’s important that you document the process and do a little research beforehand to find out what method will work best for your situation.

In anticipation of these regulations, we have incorporated specific Restaurant Menu Labeling reports in our Genesis R&D Food Formulation & Labeling software program.

Want to learn more about the regulations? Check out our eBook: Restaurant Menu Labeling | What You Need to Know.