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Restaurant Menu Labeling FAQs

The FDA menu labeling regulations require that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Businesses must also provide, upon request, additional nutrition information for standard menu items.

To whom does the new federal requirement apply? The law applies to restaurants with 20+ locations with the same name (regardless of ownership) that offer "substantially the same" menu items. It also applies to “similar retail food establishments that serve restaurant-type food." Examples of covered entities include quick service and sit-down restaurants, food take-out facilities, pizza delivery establishments, food facilities in entertainment venues (e.g., movie theaters, bowling alleys), cafeterias, coffee shops, convenience stores, grocery stores and superstores. The rule excludes schools and food facilities without fixed sites such as mobile food trucks, trains and airplanes.

When was the deadline for compliance? FDA published the final rule for menu labeling on December 1, 2014, and the compliance date was May 7, 2018.

What do I have to do to comply? Compliance for restaurants requires that printed menus and menu boards include:

  1. Calorie disclosure next to "standard menu items" in the same size and prominence as the price of the menu item

  2. A statement about suggested daily caloric intake (i.e., 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary)

  3. Notification that other nutrition information is available on request

Does the same requirement apply to menu boards (whether in the restaurant or at the drive-thru)? Yes. Calories must also be disclosed on menu boards for "standard menu items," along with the statement about suggested daily caloric intake and availability of additional nutrition information on request.

What other information do I have to make available on request? The additional nutrients included in the final rule for restaurants are: calories from fat*, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and protein. *FDA will not enforce this requirement because calories from fat are no longer required to be declared in the Nutrition Facts label of retail food products.

What constitutes a "standard menu items"? Standard menu items are offered for sale at least 60 days per calendar year. Daily specials, custom orders and limited-time test market items (fewer than 90 consecutive days) are exempt.

Does the requirement also include food allergens? No. Many restaurants voluntarily choose to provide information on the "Big 9" allergens (milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame) in brochures and on websites for consumer use.

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