Since the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, restaurants and diners alike have been eagerly waiting for the FDA to finalize the menu labeling rules required by the act. After nearly 5 years, the FDA has finally officially mandated the new rules.
So what does this mean for the foodservice industry?
It is now required that chain restaurants with 20 or more locations openly display calorie information on menus and menu boards next to the name and/or price of each item. Food facilities within entertainment venues, such as amusement parks and movie theaters, are also applicable to the new menu labeling rules.
The reason behind the new rules? According to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”*
Prior to the new rules, some restaurant chains had already implemented their own menu labeling; however, this labeling varied from state-to-state and was not well-regulated. And while the 1990 Nutrition Labeling Act established labeling on most foods, it did not establish labeling in restaurants or vending machines.
And the FDA did not limit labeling rules to just food… restaurants are also subject to label the calorie content of certain alcoholic beverages as well.
Now that the FDA has established mandated rules, restaurants and entertainment venues subject to these rules will need to follow uniform requirements to meet these federal standards; they have one year to comply.