The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two proposed regulations that would ensure calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines with 20 or more locations.
Key facts about the proposed rules are included below.
- Restaurants or similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.
- Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to these proposed regulations.
- A “restaurant or similar retail food establishment” would be an establishment that sells restaurant or restaurant-type food whose primary business activity is the sale of food to consumers. An establishment’s primary business activity would be the sale of food to consumers if either:
1. the establishment presents itself as a restaurant, or
2. greater than 50 percent of the establishment’s total floor area is used for the sale of food.
- Restaurants and similar retail food establishments not covered (for example, if they are part of a chain with fewer than 20 locations) can choose to “opt in” to the federal menu labeling requirements by registering with the FDA every other year.
- The proposed rule invites the public to comment on whether additional types of food establishments should or should not be covered by the new rules.
- Calories would be disclosed on all menus and menu boards, including menu boards at drive-through locations. The term “Calories” or “Cal” would be required to be posted on menus and menu boards next to the number of calories.
- Calorie information would be displayed clearly and prominently.
- Calories for variable menu items, such as combination meals, would be displayed in ranges. An example of a combination meal could be a choice of sandwich, side dish and beverage.
- For foods on display, calories would be listed per item or per serving on a sign next to the food.
- For self-service foods, such as a salad bar in a restaurant, calories also would be listed per serving or per item on a sign next to the food.
Statement Regarding Calorie Intake
- A succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake would be posted prominently on menus and menu boards to help the public understand the significance of the calorie information provided on menus and menu boards. The following statement is proposed: “A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.”
Availability of Additional Written Nutrition Information
- A clear and prominent statement would be posted on menus and menu boards that states that additional written nutrition information is available to consumers on request.
- The following written nutrition information for standard menu items would be available upon request: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.
Relationship to State and Local Laws
- State and local governments would not be able to impose any different or additional nutrition labeling requirements for food sold in restaurants and similar retail food establishments covered by the Federal requirements.
- State and local governments can establish nutrition labeling requirements for establishments not covered by the new law or regulations.