Coffee shop chalk menu board with prices

Federal Menu Labeling Requirements Explained

Effective 12/1/2015, the FDA has released a long-awaited final federal rule to explain new menu-labeling requirements for chain restaurants.  In general, the rule will cover restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they operate 20 or more locations under the same name with substantially the same menu items at its locations.

Smaller restaurants may comply with the rules if they choose, but this on a strictly voluntary basis.  If you meet the guidelines to comply, or choose to comply voluntarily, you must clearly and prominently display calories on menus, menu boards and drive-thru displays for standard menu items.

On buffet, cafeteria and self-service lines, calorie information must be displayed on signs near the menu items. You may use the term “calories” or “Cal” as a column heading or adjacent to the number of calories for each standard menu item.

All non-alcoholic beverages and any alcoholic drinks that are on a drink menu are covered under the new rules. The regulations do not affect mixed drinks requested by customers at a bar.

In May 2017, based on comments received, FDA is extending the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018. This extension allows for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the final rule. For more information see, the Federal Register Notice Announcing the May 7, 2018 Compliance Date.

For helpful information from the National Restaurant Association concerning the guidelines, click here or, view the FDA’s information directly here.