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On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule requiring nutrition labeling for menu items at chain restaurants, other retail food establishments, and vending machines. This Public Health Information Brief outlines steps establishments should take to be in compliance with the new rule by the December 1, 2016* deadline.
*The initial deadline was set as December 1, 2015 by FDA; on July 9, 2015, the FDA moved the deadline back by a year to December 1, 2016 to allow establishments time to comply.
On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule requiring nutrition labeling for menu items at chain restaurants, other retail food establishments, and vending machines. The rule was originally proposed as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Because Americans consume approximately one-third of their total calories outside the home, it is important that foodservice establishments make nutrition information accessible to consumers to assist them in making informed choices on foods they purchase for themselves and their families.
On July 9, 2015, the FDA extended the effective date of the nutrition menu labeling rule to December 1, 2016, two years after the publication of the final rule. This was in response to requests from the foodservice and retail industry for additional time to fully implement the requirements. At this this time there was no revision indicated for vending machines, and effective date is also December 1, 2016.
The FDA menu labeling rule applies to restaurants and retail food establishments provided that they are part of a chain that has 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and selling “substantially the same menu items.” It also includes retail establishments that sell “restaurant-type food” that will be eaten on the premises, when leaving the location, or soon after arriving at another location. This includes quick service and sit-down restaurants, take-out, pizza delivery, and food facilities in movie theaters, bowling alleys or amusement parks, cafeterias, coffee shops, warehouse buyer clubs, grocery, convenience and superstores.
Foods sold in vending machines or bulk vending machines operated by a person owning or operating 20 or more machines must have the calorie information available prior to purchase even though it may be on the item label.
Some examples of the “restaurant-type foods” that are covered include:
Foods that are NOT covered in the new rule include:
Calories must be listed separately for the optional items to the nearest 5 calorie increment up to 50 calories and then to the nearest 10 calorie increment if over 50 calories – “adds 50 calories,” etc. Ranges may be used if there are different sizes.
Can Food Establishments and Vending Machine Operators with Less than 20 Locations Choose to be Covered?
Yes, they can voluntarily register to comply with requirements at http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm217762.htm