What Is Menu Labeling?

Find out all the basics of menu labeling legislation and how you will be affected.

Healthy Food

Menu Labeling Regulations: What You Can Expect at Restaurants

As 2014 came to a close, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the federally mandated menu labeling regulations first proposed during the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010. You may have noticed that many restaurants have begun providing nutrition information ahead of the requirements, but now that the official regulations have been released, here’s what you can expect to see as restaurants comply once the law goes into effect, which is December 1, 2015:

Are ALL restaurants affected by this law?

All restaurants and retail food establishments with 20 or more locations are subject to the new menu-labeling law. These include all types of restaurants, as well as delivery establishments, convenience stores, movie theaters, bakeries, cafeterias, and food vendors such as cookie shops and vending machines.

What are the requirements of this law?

The law has three major requirements that you’ll begin to see at restaurants, if you haven’t already:

  1. Calories will be printed on menus and menu boards.  For salad bars, buffets, self-serve foods and beverages, and display-type foods, the calories per food or per serving will be displayed on a sign next to each item offered.
  2. Additional nutrition information must be available upon request, either on the menu or via a counter card, sign, poster, handout, loose-leaf binder, booklet, or electronic device such as a computer or kiosk.
  3. Restaurants will post a statement with the recommended daily caloric intake (a “2000 calorie” statement we often see on nutrition information).

Do these regulations apply to specials?

The menu labeling regulations specify “standard menu items,” which means just about everything except table condiments, daily specials, customized orders, pre-packaged foods with nutrition labels, and temporary menu items.

Has the increasing availability of nutrition information at restaurants changed how you eat out?  What do you think about the menu labeling regulations going into effect?