Get Ready for Menu Labeling: Part 4

Get Ready for Menu Labeling: Part 4

The Additional Written Information Requirement

By Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, President of Healthy Dining
June 3, 2015

Read Part 3: How Accurate Is My Restaurant’s Nutrition Information? 4 Steps to Verify Accuracy
Read Part 5: Beverages, Alcohol, and Menu Labeling

When the topic of menu labeling regulations arises, the conversation is often around calories on the menu. This highly visible requirement is changing the face of menus as we know them; however that’s not the only change that will be required after menu labeling regulations go into effect on May 5, 2017. According to the FDA’s menu labeling guidance document and the final rules, calories posted on menus and menu boards is just one piece of the menu labeling puzzle. Several pieces of additional written information will also be required on restaurant menus, menu boards and elsewhere in the restaurant.

Statements on Menus and Menu Boards
Menu labeling requirements aren’t just a new part of doing business for many restaurants; they are also a new way of eating out for your guests. In order to increase awareness about the availability of nutrition information and how it relates to individuals, restaurants will be required to update menus and menu boards with two specific statements:
  • A “succinct statement” stating “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
  • A “statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information” which states, “Additional nutrition information available upon request.”

In the interest of consistency and transparency, FDA menu labeling regulations specify these statements must be posted:
  • “Prominently and in a clear and conspicuous manner;
  • In a type size no smaller than the smallest type size of any calorie declaration appearing on the same menu or menu board;
  • In the same color or in a color at least as conspicuous as that used for the calorie declarations; and
  • With the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for the calorie declarations”

Written Nutrition Information Available
It’s not just calories that will be required in covered restaurants starting May 5, 2017. As referenced by the statement of availability posted on menus and menu boards, menu labeling regulations will require that the following nutrition information for each standard menu item must be available in written form at the restaurant:
  • Total calories (cal)
  • Calories from fat (fat cal)
  • Total fat (g)
  • Saturated fat (g)
  • Trans fat (g)
  • Cholesterol (mg)
  • Sodium (mg)
  • Total carbohydrates (g)
  • Dietary fiber (g)
  • Sugars (g)
  • Protein (g)

Note that “Cal” means calories, “g” means grams, and “mg” means milligrams.

Similar to the succinct statement and statement of availability, there are several specific requirements for how this nutrition information is to be presented in the restaurant. The written nutrition information must be:
  • Available in written form on the premises of the covered establishment;
  • Provided to the customer upon request;
  • Presented in the order listed and the measurements listed above;
  • Presented in a clear and conspicuous manner; and
  • Presented using a color, type size, and contrasting background that render the information likely to be read and understood by the ordinary individual under customary conditions of purchase and use.
In addition:

Simplified Format
In some instances your restaurant may use the “simplified format” in the available written nutrition information. In the case of “standard menu items that contain insignificant amounts of six or more of the required nutrients,” restaurants may provide the following more limited information in a column, list, or table:
  • Total calories, total fat, total carbohydrates, protein, and sodium; and
  • Calories from fat, and any other nutrients identified here that are present in more than insignificant amounts.
  • The following statement must be included when the simplified format is used: “Not a significant source of _______” (with the blank filled in with the names of the nutrients required to be declared in the written nutrition information and calories from fat that are present in insignificant amounts) at the bottom of the list of nutrients.

This alternative simplified format, variable item and topping requirements will be covered in more depth in Part 5.

How to Provide Written Nutrition Information
It’s no secret that every restaurant is different. For this reason, FDA provides a variety of options to covered establishments for making the written nutrition information required by menu labeling regulations easily available to guests. These posting options include:
  • Counter card, sign, poster, handout, booklet, loose leaf binder;
  • Electronic device, such as a computer;
  • In a menu; or
  • In any other form that similarly permits the written declaration of the required nutrient content information for all standard menu items.
  • If the written nutrition information is not in a form that can be given to the customer upon request, it must be readily available in a manner and location on the premises that allows the customer/consumer to review the written nutrition information upon request.

Next Topic: Training Your Staff for Menu Labeling Compliance
Every pinch, dash, scoop and product label can make a difference in the accuracy of your restaurant’s nutrition information. Learn how to train staff for menu labeling compliance both in the kitchen and front-of-house.

Get Help with Menu Labeling Training! Learn More About the First-of-its-Kind Nutri-Serve!

About Healthy Dining
With 25 years of nutrition expertise in the restaurant industry and hundreds of thousands of restaurant recipes analyzed, Healthy Dining is the most experienced restaurant nutrition services provider in the world. Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians supports thousands of restaurants in meeting the expanding nutrition needs of their guests and helps them comply with the new FDA menu-labeling regulations. Most of Healthy Dining’s clients are featured on The National Restaurant Association has named Healthy Dining as its exclusive nutrition partner for the industry. Additionally, Healthy Dining has been selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement a variety of restaurant nutrition-related research projects through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program. 

Learn more about Healthy Dining's nutrition services.
Meet Healthy Dining's team of registered dietitians. 
For a complimentary consultation, contact one of Healthy Dining's dietitians

Read Part 1: Understanding the Menu Labeling Requirements
Read Part 2: How Accurate Does My Nutrition Information Need to Be? The Reasonable Basis Standard
Read Part 3: How Accurate Is My Restaurant’s Nutrition Information? 4 Steps to Verify Accuracy
Read Part 5: Beverages, Alcohol, and Menu Labeling

Menu labeling compliance information provided by Healthy Dining should not be construed as legal advice.  Our team of registered dietitians and other personnel have reviewed the menu labeling regulations promulgated by the FDA in detail and communicate regularly with the FDA to clarify, ask questions and receive guidance.  However, the information Healthy Dining provides has not been drafted or reviewed by an attorney and should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is also important to note, that the advice Healthy Dining receives from the FDA in conversations or which was provided by the FDA in the 'Guidance for Industry' document released in March 2015 is nonbinding on the FDA, which expressly reserves the right to change its thinking on various matters.