FDA update – April 4, 2011

FDA proposes draft menu and vending machine labeling requirements

‘Americans’ now you can choose healthier options that can help you fight obesity and make us all healthier. Americans now consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home. So, FDA’s new regulations regarding calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines can keep them away from unhealthy food.

Aim of FDA behind these rules:

  • Consumers can find calorie and other nutrition information on most packaged foods; it's not generally available in restaurants or similar retail establishments.
  • To give consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information.

The menu labeling rule applies to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Specifically, consumers would see calories listed in restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. Examples of these establishments include fast food establishments, bakeries, coffee shops and certain grocery and convenience stores. Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to this proposed regulation.

The Affordable Care Act requires the disclosure of calorie and other nutrition information in certain food establishments and for certain foods sold in vending machines. Additionally, on menus and menu boards, statements would be posted concerning suggested daily calorie intake and indicating that additional nutrition information is available on request. Under the proposal, this information would be displayed clearly and prominently on menus and menu boards, including menu boards in drive-through locations; and for individual foods on display. Consistent with the law, the agency is proposing that the following statement on daily caloric intake be on menus and menu boards to help consumers understand the significance of the calorie information in the context of a total daily diet:

“A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.”

Under the proposed rules, operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines would post calorie information for food sold in a vending machine, unless certain nutrition information is already visible on individual packages of food inside the machine.

State and local governments could not impose any different nutrition labeling requirements for food sold in restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machines covered by the Federal requirements. Restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machine operators that are not covered by the Federal requirements could voluntarily register to be covered under the Federal nutrition labeling regulations.

Any questions on this new FDA office please email us at info@mdiconsultants.com and Ref: Menu Labeling.