UPDATE: The Food and Drug Administration has extended the deadline for menus to be updated with calorie counts. The new deadline for compliance is now December 1st 2016. Despite the extended deadline, immediate adopotion of Digital Menu Boards is still recommended to meet regulations and begin reaping the benefits of graphic menus.
Menus are a vital component of any food related establishment and businesses always need to ensure that the information displayed is up to the current standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA has specific rules on how food and drinks need to be displayed to consumers. Here is what you need to know about those rules as of July 2015.
The Rule on Menu Labeling Requirements
According to the FDA, Americans consume about one-third of their calories away from the home.
In attempt to help consumers make healthy and educated decisions while eating out, the FDA has issued a new rule requiring certain food and drink establishments to display calorie information next to menu items.
What Businesses Are Covered by the Rule?
Not every business that serves or sells food and drinks is covered by the rule.
According the FDA, food establishments are covered by the rule if they meet ALL of the following criteria.
They are part of a chain of 20 or more locations.
The locations are all doing business under the same name.
The locations sell almost exactly the same menu items.
A “food establishment” may include facilities that are: quick service and/or sit-down restaurants, take-out facilities, pizza delivery establishments, entertainment venues, cafeterias, coffee shops, superstores, grocery stores, and convenience stores.
At this time, transportation vehicles, such as food trucks, are not covered by the rule.
What You Need To Do If You Are Covered By the Rule
If your business meets the criteria listed above, it is important to display your menu items in accordance with the rule.
You are required to perform the following actions.
Disclose calorie information on menus and menu boards for standard menu items.
Post a succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake on menus and menu boards (such as “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary”).
Post a statement on menus and menu boards that “additional written nutrition information is available upon request”.
This information needs to be displayed for all food and drink items. If alcoholic beverages are a standard menu item, the calorie count for the item should be displayed as it would be with food.
Additional Nutrition Information You Need to Have Available for Customers
As mentioned above, you will need to display calorie information next to food and drink items on the menu as well as provide additional nutritional information if it is requested by a customer.
That additional nutritional information includes the following:
calories from fat
How to Display the Information on the Menu
The calories of a food/drink item on the menu need to be displayed under certain criteria.
It needs to be displayed next to the menu item name or price.
It needs to be in a font no smaller than the menu item name or price.
It needs to be a similar color to that of the menu item name or price.
It needs to have a similar contrasting background as the menu item name or price.
The rules pertain to both print menus and digital menu boards.
What is the Easiest Way to Make the Changes
The days of printed menus are long in the past and the time for Digital Menu Boards is now. Digital Menu Boards allow you to quickly and easily update items, pricing, and nutritional information with the click of a button. With Digital Signage, you can eliminate costs and time spent complying to new regulations as they inevitably arrive. Not to mention, the addition of Digital Signage in your business can create new opportunities to engage customers with eye-catching graphics and create a high-end experience.
Interested in learning more? Check out our post on The Benefits of Using Digital Menu Boards.
When You Need to Make The Changes
Restaurants “have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements,” according to the FDA website.
The Federal Register lists the “final rule” as entered on December 1, 2014. So, restaurants should be ready to release their new compliant menus as the deadline of December 1, 2015 is quickly approaching.
If all of these rules sound a little too complex and confusing or you aren’t sure if your menus meet FDA requirements, don’t fret.
Our team at Spectrio are experts in the complexities of FDA requirements and can help you bring your menu boards up to code. Don’t wait until the FDA deems your menu boards non-compliant. Contact us to talk to one of our specialists and get your boards up to code today.