Nutrition Labeling for Restaurant Chains

Jan 20, 2010 | Legislation, News & Trends

Labeling is now the law in all 50 states. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires restaurants with 20 or more locations nationally to add calorie counts to menus, menu boards and drive-thru menu boards for standard menu items. It also requires covered restaurants to make additional nutrition data available to guests on request.

Restaurant Dietitian understands the requirements and can help you meet them. Best of all, we can help you adjust your recipes to meet the healthy choices that consumers want, government is demanding – and still make the dishes taste great.

All Standard Menu Items Included

Here’s what’s covered.

The law defines standard menu items as items offered for sale for at least 60 days per calendar year with a few exemptions that include:

  • Temporary items appearing on the menu for fewer than 60 days per calendar year.
  • Items not listed on menus or menu boards (for example, condiments and items placed on the table or counter for general use).
  • Daily specials.
  • Custom orders.
  • Customary test market items appearing on a menu for fewer than 90 days.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Violations can be very expensive with fines up to $2000 per infraction. Local and state enforcement is handled by Health Departments.

Is there an upside benefit?

Absolutely. The reason menu labeling was part of health care reform is that consumers are demanding it. Analyzing your recipes for the nutrition content reveals the real “nutrition facts” and allows you to modify your recipes to cater to a healthier customer. Menu labeling enables your customers to make the informed choices they want and meet their goal of healthier eating. More than just another regulatory headache, this is an opportunity for forward-thinking restaurant operators to capitalize early on one of the hottest trends in the industry.

Get the details here from the National Restaurant Association.