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U.S. FDA Issues Draft Guidance for Menu Labeling

On September 11, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance document that will help companies to comply with the Menu Labeling Rule, which requires that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations. The guidance document is an important resource to assist those in covered establishments to comply with the rule by December 1, 2016. Stretch’s Public Health Information Brief summarizes high-level information and guides organizations through key provisions in the draft guidance document.

This guidance is intended to help establishments implement the rule and better understand the flexibility in the rule. The guidance also answers questions and helps explain how the final requirements work for different types of establishments. The guidance does not and cannot change the final requirements of the menu labeling rule.

Download Stretch Public Health Information Brief US FDA Issues Draft Guidance for Menu Labeling

What are some of the key questions answered in the Draft Guidance Document?

  • The document includes a Definitions section which provides definitions for the following:
    • Claims
    • Establishments
    • Food types and menu items
    • Labeling and nutrition information
  • Table 1 of the document provides a helpful quick reference list of the types of establishments that are covered under the law.
  • Section 5.4 spells out in detail what foods in a covered establishment are exempt from calorie and other nutritional labeling requirements.
  • Section 5.10 provides information that menu items that are only offered a few times a year or a few times a month are exempt from the Menu Labeling Law because they meet the definition of a “temporary menu item”.
  • Sections 5.17 through 5.43 provide many options available for declaring calories on the menu or menu board.
  • Section 5.56 lists all of the nutritional information that must be available in written form on the premises of the establishment in case a customer should request it - for each menu item served.
  • Sections 5.73 through 5.93 address how to provide calorie information for standard menu items that are selfservice (e.g. buffet, salad bard, beverage dispensers), or on display (e.g. grab-n-go) if they are not listed on the menu or menu board.
  • Sections 6.1 through 6.20 provide information on the various ways to determine nutrient value for restaurant food.
  • Section 6.23 addresses penalties for failure to provide accurate nutrient information.
  • Section 6.24 addresses who is responsible for enforcing the Menu Labeling Law.
  • Section 7 answers questions on when it is necessary and how to provide calorie declarations for alcoholic beverages.
  • Appendix A provides instruction on nutrient “rounding rules” for menu items.

The links below direct you to the Draft Guidance document, as well as FDA’s published Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements or Draft Guidance Document:

  • Draft Guidance for Industry: A Labeling Guide for Restaurants and Retail Establishments Selling AwayFrom-Home Foods – Part II (Menu Labeling Requirements in Accordance with 21 CFR 101.11)
  • Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements
  • FDA Statement on Extension of Menu Labeling Compliance Date

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