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Restaurants upgrade coffee offerings as consumer tastes mature

Coffee is America’s favorite hot beverage, and it’s getting hotter, with new consumers starting to drink it at a younger age and restaurants upgrading their coffee offerings. Learn more in this article from Nation’s Restaurant News, written by .

Coffee by the numbers

According to a study conducted last year by menu research firm Datassential for supplier S&D Coffee & Tea, coffee drinkers 18 to 24 years old started their habit at an average age of 14.7 years. By contrast, people 25 to 34 years old started drinking coffee at an average 17.1 years of age, and those 35 to 44 years old began at an average age of 19.1 years.

Coffee is also getting colder. Iced coffee was offered at 32 percent more restaurants in 2014 than it was in 2005, according to Datassential. Between 2013 and 2014, it jumped by 38 percent in fine dining and 19 percent in fast casual — the segments in which iced coffee offerings spiked the most. However, its presence declined 3 percent in casual dining.

Iced coffee acts as a gateway beverage to other coffee drinks, according to Datassential, especially among young people. Thirty-six percent of 18- to 24-year-old drinkers said they mostly chose iced or frozen coffee beverages when they started drinking coffee, compared with 22 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 11 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds.

But young drinkers’ tastes also reached “maturity” — defined as a major shift in coffee drink preferences, often away from sweeter drinks and toward those with more intense coffee flavor — more quickly, the study for S&D found. Members of the youngest age group settled into their preferred coffee taste in an average 3.1 years from the time they started drinking coffee, compared with 4.7 years for 25- to 34-year-olds and 7.6 years for 35- to 44-year-olds. The most popular reasons for the shift were a change in preference for stronger coffee, drinking more coffee at home (where automatic drip coffee still rules), and a change in taste to drinks that were less sweet.

Flavored coffees are also on the decline, according to Dan Cox, president and owner ofCoffee Analysts, a testing lab based in Burlington, Vt. About 42 percent of consumers drank flavored coffee five years ago, he said, and that figure is now around 33 percent.

Specialty coffee — whether espresso-based or premium-brewed coffee — is on the rise, just as iced coffee is. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 45 percent said the coffee they drank most often when they started was regular brewed coffee, compared with 58 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds and 73 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds.

Catching the ‘Third Wave’

“Third Wave” coffee is on the rise.

First Wave coffee is the pre-ground stuff sold mostly in cans in supermarkets. The Second Wave came with Starbucks and the notion that coffee could be more than fuel.

The Third Wave represents a new sensibility in which coffee shops team with small roasters and source premium, typically small-production beans that they carefully brew at the right temperature, using techniques that allow the beans to best express themselves.

“In recent years the third wave coffee movement has grown dramatically,” Datassential reported.

“As more independent coffee shops are dedicated to the artisanal production of coffee, expect more restaurant operators to expand their coffee programs and a greater number of consumers to be able to distinguish between a dark roast Brazilian coffee and a selectively roasted Yellow Catuai from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil,” it said in a report on the Third Wave movement.

Although Datassential found that only 3 percent of foodservice operators currently offer coffee they consider Third Wave (mostly specialists such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters), nearly a third, or 32 percent, see it as a long-term trend, and 7 percent said they’re very likely to add it.

Consumers are more bullish: 30 percent say they’ve heard of Third Wave coffee, and of those, 42 percent said they are likely to try it. Those numbers jump to 50 percent and 58 percent, respectively, among people ages 30 and under.

Although few mainstream restaurants have the handlebar mustachioed, sleeve-garter wearing baristas of Third Wave coffee shops, many are upping their game as they see the importance, especially during breakfast, of a good cup of java, not to mention its profitability.

“The most offensive thing is to see someone roll into your restaurant with Starbucks in their hand,” S&D vice president of marketing John Buckner said.

McDonald’s, which continues to dominate at breakfast, despite a continuing slump in same-store sales over the past year, got the ball rolling in 2009, with the introduction of its McCafé line of premium coffees, including lattés, frozen drinks and smoothies. Burger King at the time had a BK Joe line, which it discontinued in 2010, but it introduced a line of Smooth Roast coffee and latte drinks in 2013. Chick-fil-A upped the ante last August with the introduction of its Farmer-Direct coffee.

The Atlanta-based chicken chain teamed up with Thrive Farmers Coffee, which sources directly from farmers, to offer the only specialty-grade coffee in quick service, defined by its high score with regard to its taste, aroma, body, balance and other factors.

“We reflected on feedback from our customers who expressed that they wanted a better cup of coffee, and we found a partner who brought the added expertise we needed,” David Farmer, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of product strategy and development, wrote in an email.

With its coffee drinkers interested in where their brew comes from, Chick-fil-A set up a website, coffeewithastory.com.  The chain also gave away free coffee for a month during “Free Coffee February” — long enough for customers to make it a habit, Buckner observed. The rest of the time, it is priced at $1.59 for hot coffee and $2.29 for 16 ounces of original or vanilla cold-brewed iced coffee.

Cold brewing, in which coffee is made by soaking ground beans in cold water for many hours, is a Third Wave technique that proponents say extracts flavors that are richer and less bitter than conventional coffee. Starbucks introduced it at 2,800 locations in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and Midwest, as well as select Canadian units in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, at the end of March. Starbucks’ Cold Brew takes 20 hours to make.

Dunkin’ Donuts, meanwhile, has not been taking it easy. Last year, the Canton, Mass.-based quick-service chain introduced its first dark roast coffee, complete with certification from an organization looking to safeguard the environment.

“Our new Rainforest Alliance Certified Dark Roast Coffee was in the works with our coffee excellence team for several years prior to the launch and has long been a part of our strategy to reinforce coffee leadership and support national expansion,” Chuck Kantner, director of brand marketing for parent company Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., wrote in an email.

Dunkin’ Donuts has been expanding on the West Coast, where consumers generally prefer darker roasts than in the chain’s Northeast stronghold.

“Dunkin’ Donuts is part of a very competitive market, with many QSR brands emphasizing beverages and coffee in particular,” Kantner said.

“Our RAC Dark Roast has been especially appreciated since it offers [our fans] the unique combination of a bold, dark roast taste with a smooth finish so characteristic of Dunkin’s coffee — never bitter,” he added.

Dunkin’ Donuts also added almond milk as a non-dairy alternative, while Starbucks began offering coconut milk.

Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded its frozen beverage line with the Coolatta Lite, which has 80 percent fewer calories than its regular Coolatta, and with the Frozen Dunkaccino, which is a frozen, blended coffee-and-chocolate drink.

Starbucks, meanwhile, added a new espresso drink, the Flat White, with more milk than a macchiato and less than a cappuccino. Based on the Australian style of cappuccino, it has two ristretto shots topped with a thin layer of “microfoam,” made by aerating milk for three to five seconds — less than for cappuccinos or lattes.

Taco Bell, which has moved aggressively into breakfast over the past year, extended its partnership with Cinnabon, whose Cinnabon Delight miniature rolls it already sells, to introduce Cinnabon Delight Coffee.

Starbucks transformed the world of seasonal coffee with its introduction in 2003 of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The Seattle-based company said it sold more than 200 million servings before the 2013 season began. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are now a holiday tradition at many coffee chains.

Dunkin’ Donuts has also worked to offer seasonal coffees to go with seasonal food, such as a Halloween Pumpkin Donut to go with its Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Last holiday season, Starbucks introduced a new seasonal drink, a Chestnut Praline Latte, while Dunkin’ Donuts introduced a Snickerdoodle Latte and a Sugar Cookie Latte.

Meanwhile, Krispy Kreme introduced a Peppermint Mocha, Caribou Coffee offered a Gingersnap Cookie Mocha for a limited time, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf had Toffee Nut Latte and peppermint Mocha limited-time offers that were preceded by a Butter Pecan Latte in the fall.

Coffee Bean offers seasonal drinks throughout the year, such as the vanilla and hazelnut varieties it offered over the summer, but other chains carry seasonal limited-time offers, too. Bruegger’s offered sea salt and caramel coffee in late spring.

“The seasons and holidays play a big role in how we approach our innovation process and have resulted in some of our most popular products,” Kantner of Dunkin’ Brands said. “For guests, each season evokes a different feeling of nostalgia … memories of when they first enjoyed the taste of pumpkin pie, fall spices or a rich cup of hot cocoa after an afternoon of playing in the snow, which is why our seasonal beverages and bakery items are so popular among our guests.”

The next frontier

Hot and iced coffee, lattes and flavored coffee beverages are all well and good, but Sam Penix, principal of New York City-based Third Wave coffee shop Everyman Espresso, sees new coffee drinks on the horizon, such as his line of drinks that mimic cocktails, but use coffee instead of alcohol.

“We wanted to start thinking about coffee as an ingredient that can be paired with other things to create a complete beverage that’s balanced and interesting and delicious and complex,” he said.

For example, he makes an Espresso Old Fashioned with a shot of espresso, usually a single-origin variety, bitters, simple syrup and a citrus twist.

The exact type of bitters and citrus vary depending on the espresso he starts with, he said. Currently he’s using a Ramira from Rwanda, which Penix describes as “a sweet and slightly spicy balanced coffee.” He augments the spice with pimiento bitters and finishes it with a lime twist.

Also currently on the menu is an East Village Special, $5, named for a local coffee soda called Manhattan Special. For that he uses a sun-dried espresso with cherry-chocolate notes, tiki bitters that taste of clove and other warm spices, a dropper-full of orange cream citrate, which contains citric acid, and seltzer.

The Second Wind, $5, uses Ramira espresso, lime juice and simple syrup, shaken and served up in a coupe.

“So that’s basically a daiquiri, with the Ramira instead of rum,” he said.

Wage hike debate continues on both coasts

As Seattle began to phase in its $15-per-hour minimum wage this month, pay for hourly workers has been a top issue in other parts of the country, including California, New York and Massachusetts, according to a new article from NRN written by .

In Los Angeles, both city officials and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors are studying a proposed plan by Mayor Eric Garcetti to boost wages to $13.25 per hour by 2017, and to $15.25 per hour by 2019.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, Calif., the minimum wage climbed from $9 per hour to $12.25 per hour on March 2.

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San Francisco will join Oakland in May with a wage increase to $12.25 per hour, in the first phase of a gradual increase to $15 per hour by 2018.

Emeryville, Calif., is also considering a minimum wage increase to $14 per hour.

Some states are also weighing the inequities between tipped and non-tipped workers.

In California, which does not have a tip credit, a bill sponsored by the California Restaurant Association would invalidate local minimum wage laws for servers earning tips amounting to at least $15 per hour.

The state has already approved a minimum wage increase of $10 per hour by January 2016. Under proposed Assembly Bill 669, the wage for tipped employees would remain $9 per hour, as long as they earn at least $15 per hour including tips.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers by 2022.

This year, the state’s wage began climbing from $8 to $11 per hour by 2017. Tipped workers will see the wage floor also gradually increase, from $2.63 to $3.75 per hour.

Under new legislation proposed as an addendum to the bill, the wage for tipped workers would continue to climb until the two-tiered system is abolished by 2022.

In New York, however, a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 per hour, and $11.50 in New York City, is apparently a casualty of a budget agreement unveiled last week, which has disappointed wage-hike supporters there.

As of Feb. 24, 29 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25.

Take the worry out of weekly food inventories

Most independent restaurants calculate their food cost only once a month, but virtually all of the major chains calculate theirs each week.

According to industry averages, chain restaurants ‑ before corporate expenses ‑ are two to three times as profitable as independent restaurants. While weekly food costing isn’t the entire reason for that profitability, it’s part of it.

To accurately calculate your cost weekly, you’ll need to take inventory weekly as well. The only method for computing accurate cost of sales is to take physical inventories and then calculate the value of inventory on hand. Many operators erroneously believe that what they spend on food and beverage purchases is their cost of sales. While this may be true in the long run, for specific-period analysis it is inaccurate.

The correct formula for calculating cost of sales for each category is this: Beginning Inventory plus Purchases minus Ending Inventory equals Cost of Sales.

Taking weekly inventories doesn’t mean you have to spend half the night to do it. Here are a few tips to help you take inventory quickly. Properly applied, these principals will help you to be more accurate and should reduce the time spent counting your food inventory to under two hours.

Get organized. It is virtually impossible to take an accurate inventory when the stock room or walk-in is in disarray. Be sure all store rooms, shelves and refrigeration units are organized and clean. Product should be easy to see and count. Labels should be used for hard to identify product. Don’t put items in incorrectly marked boxes or containers.

Count it on Sunday. Most restaurants are open seven days a week. A natural tracking period is from Monday to Sunday. Also, inventory levels will be at their lowest on Sunday evening. If you are closed Sunday, then count it on Saturday evening or early Monday morning.

Separate your inventory into groups. Group your inventory into cost categories, such as meat, seafood, produce, dairy, grocery, etc. This will make it easy for cost calculations and help to organize your inventory. Grouping your inventory also makes it easier to zero in on cost control problems.

Arrange items in shelf order. Some managers advocate arranging items on the inventory sheets in the order they count the inventory. If you are using an order guide, arrange your spreadsheet to match that of the order guide. You can then record your counts on the order guide and transfer them to the spreadsheet for calculating the total value.

Use two people for taking inventory. One counts and the other records; the one recording is also an extra pair of eyes so nothing is overlooked. Also, be sure to use a pencil to encourage correcting mistakes.

‘Paint’ your restaurant. Always conduct inventories by starting at one end of the building and counting everything in a contiguous order. This practice will help ensure nothing gets skipped. Jumping from one area of the restaurant to another and back again will almost certainly cause you to miss something. It is much easier to flip to the proper page several times for a particular item rather than try to visit all of the places that item may be stored.

Keep counted areas off limits. Some kitchen managers like to get a head start on the inventory counting process. This approach is fine as long as counted product isn’t subsequently sold that same day. Once you have counted an area, make sure nobody removes or adds product to that area. For instance, maybe you have already counted the freezer, but later find out that the cooks need another case of frozen hamburger patties you have already counted. Be sure you adjust your count before putting them into production. That case will end up in an area you have not yet counted and thus will end up being double counted.particular item rather than try to visit all of the places that item may be stored.

This article is presented courtesy of RestaurantOwner.com, a source of operational and business resources for independent restaurant operators. For more information, visit www.RestaurantOwner.com.

7 steps to successful cardboard recycling

Many restaurant owners want to recycle but don’t know how or where to begin. Follow these 7 steps from the National Restaurant Association to get started.

Starting with a big, complex recycling program can be difficult for a several reasons:

  • Different cities and counties take different materials.
  • Training staff can be time consuming.
  • Establishing a front-of-house recycling bin system can take up considerable space.

Even if you can’t tackle everything at once, you can start by recycling the material that takes up about 25 percent of your dumpster. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s cardboard!

“Focusing on recycling your cardboard will help you get big bang for your buck by reducing the size of your waste stream and the need for a big dumpster to hold your ‘trash’,” says Jeff Clark, program director for the NRA’s Conserve program.

Waste material, such as cardboard shipping boxes, often has significant market value as useful new products. Boxes can be recycled and turned into paper cups or other items if the material isn’t contaminated.

Discover seven tips on how to begin:

Find out if you can recycle on premise. If you rent your space, check your lease to make sure you can place additional bins out back. If you can, make sure there’s enough room throughout the space and/or parking lot.

Train staff to safely cut up boxes and lay them flat in the cardboard bin. That will reduce empty space between loosely packed boxes so you can fit more in for each pick up. The result: You’lll save money and look more organized and clean to your customers and employees.

Put only cardboard in the cardboard recycling bin. Don’t contaminate the pile with other bags, bottles or cans, and keep it as dry as possible.

Ask your recycler whether he or she accepts waxed cardboard from foodstuff deliveries. Waxed cardboard must be separated from normal cardboard because the wax contaminates pulp during reprocessing.

Find out who will pick it up. Call local recycling centers and government agencies for information on finding the right hauler. Get references from neighboring business owners. And check out GridWaste.com, where haulers bid for your business.

Get baled out. If you have space constraints at your restaurant, ask the recycler about a cardboard baler to crush and bind the cardboard. Make sure you ask whether he or she can use the baled material as is. If not, ask what companies would accept it instead. Also, ask city or state environmental agencies about financial assistance to buy baling equipment.

Log your savings; revisit your efforts. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so track your cardboard recycling by weight, if possible, as well as monetary savings. Once you have a successful program in place, consider expanding to single-stream recycling.

Visit the NRA’s Conserve program for more information about sustainability tips and tools, and check out the NRA’s partnership with LeanPath to provide operators with food-waste tracking technology.

Guidance for Industry: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Small Entity Compliance Guide

This guidance represents the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) current thinking on this topic. See the original post here. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind FDA or the public.  You can use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.  If you want to discuss an alternative approach, contact the FDA staff responsible for implementing this guidance.  If you cannot identify the appropriate FDA staff, call the telephone number listed on the title page of this guidance.

I. Introduction

On December 1, 2014, FDA (we) published a final rule entitled “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments” (“the rule”) in the Federal Register to implement the nutrition labeling provisions in section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“section 4205”). The rule is effective on December 1, 2015.  Section 4205 amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), among other things, to require 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 to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items, including food on display and self-service food.  Under section 4205, restaurants and similar retail food establishments not otherwise covered by the law may elect to become subject to the Federal requirements by registering every other year with FDA.  Providing accurate, clear, and consistent nutrition information, including the calorie content of foods, in restaurants and similar retail food establishments will make such nutrition information available to consumers in a direct and accessible manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices.

We have prepared this Small Entity Compliance Guide in accordance with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (Public Law 104-121). This guidance document restates in plain language the requirements set forth in 21 CFR 101.11 concerning nutrition labeling of standard menu items in establishments covered by the rule. We have organized this guidance in a question/answer format and also identify the relevant regulation in parentheses after each answer.  The rule is binding and has the full force and effect of law.

FDA’s guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities.  Instead, guidances describe our current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.  The use of the word should in our guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.

In the remainder of this guidance, “you” and “I” refer to establishments that are subject to the rule.

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II. Coverage of the Rule

A. Establishments Covered by the Rule

II.A.1. Who is subject to the rule?

You are subject to the rule if you are a “covered establishment.”  The rule defines “covered establishment” as a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership, e.g., individual franchises) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items, as well as a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is registered to be covered under the rule.

(21 CFR 101.11(a)).

II.A.2 Where can I find information about registering voluntarily to be covered by the rule?

See section VI of this document and 21 CFR 101.11(d) for information on how a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is not part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items may voluntarily register to be subject to the rule.

II.A.3.  How does the rule define “restaurant or similar retail food establishment”?

The rule defines “restaurant or similar retail food establishment” as a retail establishment that offers for sale restaurant-type food, except if it is a school as defined by 7 CFR 210.2 or 220.2. (21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.A.4.  How does the rule define “restaurant-type food”?

The rule defines “restaurant-type food” as food that is:

(1) Usually eaten on the premises, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location; and

(2) Either:

(a) Served in restaurants or other establishments in which food is served for immediate human consumption or which is sold for sale or use in such establishments; or

(b) Processed and prepared primarily in a retail establishment, ready for human consumption, of the type described in subparagraph (a) of this definition, and offered for sale to consumers but not for immediate human consumption in such establishment and which is not offered for sale outside such establishment.  In other words, restaurant-type food is the subset of food previously exempt from Federal nutrition labeling requirements under sections 403(q)(5)(A)(i) and (ii) of the FD&C Act that is usually eaten on the premises of the establishment, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location.  (21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.A.5.  What are some examples of foods that general would be considered “restaurant-type food”?

Examples of food that generally would be considered restaurant-type food include:  food for immediate consumption at a sit-down or quick service restaurant; food purchased at a drive-through; take-out and delivery pizza, hot pizza at grocery and convenience stores that is ready to eat, and pizza slices from a movie theater; hot buffet food, hot soup at a soup bar, and food from a salad bar; foods ordered from a menu or menu board at a grocery store intended for individual consumption (e.g., soups, sandwiches, and salads); and self-service foods and foods on display that are intended for individual consumption (e.g., sandwiches, wraps, and paninis at a deli counter; and cookies from a mall cookie counter; bagels, donuts, and rolls offered for individual sale).

II.A.6.  What foods would not be considered “restaurant-type food”?

Foods that are grocery-type items that may be ready for immediate consumption but that consumers usually store for use at a later time or customarily further prepare would not be considered “restaurant-type food.”  Examples of food that generally would not be considered restaurant-type food include:  food bought from bulk binds or cases (e.g., dried fruit, nuts) in grocery stores; foods to be eaten over several eating occasions or stored for later use (e.g., loaves of bread, bags or boxes of dinner rolls, whole cakes, and bags or boxes of candy or cookies); foods sold by weight that are not self-serve and are not intended solely for individual consumption (e.g., deli salads sold by unit of weight such as potato salad or chicken salad), either prepacked or packed upon consumer request; and foods that are usually further prepared before consuming (e.g., deli meats and cheeses).

II.A.7.  How does the rule define “location”?

The rule defines “location” as a fixed position or site.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.A.8.  How does the rule define “doing business under the same name”?

The rule defines “doing business under the same name” as sharing the same name. The term “name” refers to the name of the establishment presented to the public.  If there is no name of the establishment presented to the public (e.g., an establishment with the generic descriptor “concession stand”), the term “name” refers to the name of the parent entity that operates the establishment.  When the term “name” refers to the name of the establishment presented to the public, the term “same” includes names that are slight variations or each other, for example, due to the region, location or size (e.g., “New York Ave. Burgers” and “Pennsylvania Ave. Burgers” or “ABC” and “ABC Express”).

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

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II.A.9.  How does the rule define “offering for sale substantially the same menu items”?

The rule defines “offering for sale substantially the same menu items” as offering for sale a significant proportion of menu items that use the same general recipe and are prepared in substantially the same way with substantially the same food components, even if the name of the menu item varies, (e.g. “Bay View Crab Cake” and “Ocean View Crab Cake”).  “Menu items” in this definition refers to food items that are listed on a menu or menu board or that are offered as self-service food or food on display.  Restaurants and similar retail food establishment that are part of a chain can still be offering for sale substantially the same menu items if the availability of some menu items varies within the chain.  Having the same name may indicate, but does not necessarily guarantee, that menu items are substantially the same.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

B. Establishments Not Covered by the Rule

II.B.1.  Who is not covered by the rule?

Establishments that do not meet the definition of “restaurant or similar retail food establishment” are not covered by the rule.  This means that establishments that do not offer for sale restaurant-type food are not covered.  In addition, schools (as that term is defined in 7 CFR 210.2 or 220.2) are excepted from the definition of “restaurant or similar retail food establishment” in the rule and, thus, are not covered by the rule.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

A restaurant or similar retail food establishment is not covered by the rule if it is not a covered establishment – i.e., it is not:

  • Part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership, e.g., individual franchises) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items; or
  • A restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is registered to be covered under the rule.

C. Food Covered by the Rule

II.C.1. What foods are covered by the rule?

The rule applies to foods that are standard menu items offered for sale in a covered establishment.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(1)(i))

II.C.2. How does the rule define “standard menu item”?

The rule defines “standard menu item” as a restaurant-type food that is routinely included on a menu or menu board or routinely offered as a self-service food or food on display.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.C.3. How does the rule define “menu or menu board”?

The rule defines “menu or menu board” as the primary writing of the covered establishment from which a customer makes an order selection, including, but not limited to, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus; dessert menus; beverage menus; children’s menus; other specialty menus; electronic menus; and menus on the Internet.  The rule specifies that determining whether a writing is or is part of the primary writing of the covered establishment from which a customer makes an order selection depends on a number of factors, including whether the writing lists the name of a standard menu item (or an image depicting the standard menu item) and the price of the standard menu item, and whether the writing can be used by a customer to make an order selection at the time the customer is viewing the writing.  Menus may be in different forms, e.g., booklets, pamphlets, or single sheets of paper.  Menu boards include those inside a covered establishment as well as drive-through menu boards at covered establishments.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

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II.C.4. How does the rule define “food on display”?

The rule defines “food on display” as restaurant-type food that is visible to the customer before the customer makes a selection, so long as there is not an ordinary expectation of further preparation by the consumer before consumption.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.C.5.  How does the rule define “self-service food”?

The rule defines “self-service food” as restaurant-type food that is available at a salad bar, buffet line, cafeteria line, or similar self-service facility and that is served by the customers themselves.  Self-service food also includes self-service beverages.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.C.6. How does the rule define “combination meal”?

The rule defines “combination meal” as a standard menu item that consists of more than one food item, for example a meal that includes a sandwich, a side dish, and a drink.  A combination meal may be represented on the menu or menu board in narrative form, numerically, or pictorially.  Some combination meals may include a variable menu item or be a variable menu item as defined in this paragraph where the components may vary.  For example, the side dish may vary among several options (e.g., fries, salad, or onion rings) or the drinks may vary (e.g., soft drinks, milk, or juice) and the customer selects which of these items will be included in the meal.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

Examples of combination meals other than those included in the definition include:

  • A burger and fries;
  • A sandwich and a package of chips;
  • Pancakes and eggs;
  • Soup and sandwich; and
  • Sandwich and salad.

II.C.7. How does the rule define “variable menu item”?

The rule defines “variable menu item” as a standard menu item that comes in different flavors, varieties, or combinations, and is listed as a single menu item.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

Examples of variable menu items include the following items where such items are listed as single menu items on the menu or menu board:

  • Milkshakes, ice cream, soft drinks, and doughnuts that are available in multiple flavors;
  • Pizza prepared with a selection of crusts and toppings;
  • Chicken that may be grilled or fried; and
  • A grilled cheese sandwich that can be made with either Cheddar or Swiss cheese.

D. Foods Not Covered by the Rule

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II.D.1.  What foods are not covered by the rule?

The labeling requirements of the rule do not apply to foods that are not standard menu items, including:

  • Items such as condiments that are for general use, including those placed on the table or on or behind the counter;
  • Daily specials;
  • Temporary menu items;
  • Custom orders;
  • Food that is part of a customary market test; and
  • Self-service food and food on display that is offered for sale for less than a total of 60 days per calendar year or fewer than 90 consecutive days in order to test consumer acceptance.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(1)(ii)(A)(1) and(2))

II.D.2.  Are alcoholic beverages covered by the rule?

Yes.  However, alcoholic beverages that are foods on display and are not self-service foods are not subject to the new requirements, established in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii), for standard menu items that are self-service or on display.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(1)(ii)(B))

For example, a bottle of liquor behind a bar used to prepare mixed drinks is not subject to the labeling requirements in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii) that otherwise apply to standard menu items that are self-service or on display.

II.D.3.  What terms related to foods not covered by the rule does the rule define?

The rule defines the following terms related to foods not covered by the rule:

  • Custom order
  • Daily special
  • Food that is part of a customary market test
  • Temporary menu item

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.D.4.  How does the rule define “custom order”?

The rule defines “custom order” as a food order that is prepared in a specific manner based on an individual customer’s request, which requires the covered establishment to deviate from its usual preparation of a standard menu item, e.g., a club sandwich without the bacon if the establishment usually includes bacon in its club sandwich.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.D.5. How does the rule define “daily special”?

The rule defines “daily special” as a menu item that is prepared and offered for sale on a particular day, that is not routinely listed on a menu or menu board or offered by the covered establishment, and that is promoted by the covered establishment as a special menu item for that particular day.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.D.6. How does the rule define “food that is part of a customary market test”?

The rule defines “food that is part of a customary market test” as food that appears on a menu or menu board for less than 90 consecutive days in order to test consumer acceptance of the product.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

II.D.7. How does the rule define “temporary menu item”?

The rule defines “temporary menu item” as a food that appears on a menu or menu board for less than a total of 60 days per calendar year.  The 60 days includes the total of consecutive and non-consecutive days the item appears on the menu.

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

III. Compliance Dates

III.1. If I am subject to the rule, when must I comply with it?

You must comply with the rule by December 1, 2015 if you are subject to the requirements of the rule on or before that date.

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IV. Labeling Requirements for Nutrition Information

A. Types of Labeling Requirements

IV.A.1. What Labeling Requirements Does the Rule Establish for Standard Menu Items that are Offered for Sale in a Covered Establishment?

The rule establishes labeling requirements for:

  • Information that must be provided on menus and menu boards (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)).  This includes all of the following:
    • Calories (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A));
    • A succinct statement to enable consumers to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the calorie information provided on menus and menu boards (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B)); and
    • A statement on menus and menu boards about the availability of additional written nutrition information (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C));
  • Nutrition information that must be available in written form on the premises of the covered establishment and provided to the customer upon request (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)); and
  • Standard menu items that are self-service or on display (21 CFR 101.11)(b)(2)(iii)).

B. General Format Requirements for Declaring Calories on Menus and Menu Boards

IV.B.1. How do I list the number of calories on the menu or menu board?

You must declare the number of calories contained in each standard menu item listed on the menu or menu board, as usually prepared and offered for sale.

  • In the case of multiple-serving standard menu items, this means the calories declared must be for the whole menu item listed on the menu or menu board as usually prepared and offered for sale (e.g., “pizza pie: 1600 cal”); or per discrete serving unit as long as the discrete serving unit (e.g., pizza slice) and total number of discrete serving units contained in the menu item are declared on the menu or menu board, and the menu item is usually prepared and offered for sale divided in discrete serving units (e.g., “pizza pie: 200 cal/slice, 8 slices”).

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A))

You must list the number of calories:

  • Adjacent to the name or the price of the associated standard menu item;
  • In a type size no smaller than the type size of the name or the price of the associated standard menu item, whichever is smaller;
  • In the same color, or a color at least as conspicuous as that used for the name of the associated standard menu item; and
  • With the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for the name of the associated standard menu item.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(1))

IV.B.2. How do I declare increments of calories on the menu or menu board?

You must declare calories to the nearest 5-calorie increment up to and including 50 calories and to the nearest 10-calorie increment above 50 calories, except that you may express amounts less than 5 calories as zero.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(2))

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IV.B.3. How do I declare the term “Calories” or “Cal” on the menu or menu board?

The term “Calories” or “Cal” must appear as a heading above a column listing the number of calories for each standard menu item or adjacent to the number of calories for each standard menu item.

  • If the term “Calories” or “Cal” appears as a heading above a column of calorie declarations, the term must be:
    • In a type size no smaller than the smallest type size of the name or price of any menu item on that menu or menu board;
    • In the same color or a color at least as conspicuous as that used for that name or price; and
    • In the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for that name or price.
  • If the term “Calories” or “Cal” appears adjacent to the number of calories for the standard menu item, the term “Calories” or “Cal” must appear:
    • In the same type size as the number of calories; and
    • In the same color and contrasting background as the number of calories.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(3))

C.  Additional Format Requirements That Apply When Declaring Calories on Menus and Menu Boards for Variable Menu Items, Combination Meals, and Toppings

IV.C.1.  What additional requirements apply to individual variable menu items?

  • When the menu or menu board lists flavors or varieties of an entire individual variable menu item (such as soft drinks, ice cream, doughnuts, dips, and chicken that can be grilled or fried), you must declare the calories separately for each listed flavor or variety.  For example, if the menu or menu board lists vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors of ice cream, you must declare the calories separately for each of those listed flavors.  Where flavors or varieties have the same calorie amounts (after rounding in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(2)), the calorie declaration for such flavors or varieties can be listed as a single calorie declaration adjacent to the flavors or varieties, provided that the calorie declaration specifies that the calorie amount listed represents the calorie amounts for each individual flavor or variety.  (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(4)(i)).
  • When the menu or menu board does not list flavors or varieties for an entire individual variable menu item, and only includes a general description of the variable menu item (e.g. “soft drinks”), you must declare the calories for each option as follows (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(4)(ii)):
    • With a slash between the two calorie declarations where only two options are available (e.g., “150/250 calories”); or
    • As a range in accordance with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7) where more than two options are available (e.g., “100 – 250 calories”).
  • When the menu or menu board describes flavors or varieties for only part of an individual variable menu item (such as different types of cheese offered in a grilled cheese sandwich (e.g., “Grilled Cheese (Cheddar or Swiss)”), you must declare the calories for each option as follows (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(4)(iii)):
    • With a slash between the two calorie declarations where only two options are available (e.g., “450/500 calories”); or
    • As a range in accordance with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7) where more than two options are available (e.g., “450 – 550 calories”).

IV.C.2.  What additional requirements apply to a variable menu item that is offered for sale with the option of adding toppings listed on the menu or menu board?

When the menu or menu board lists toppings that can be added to a menu item (such as pizza or ice cream):

  • You must declare the calories for the basic preparation of the menu item as listed (e.g., “small pizza pie,” “single scoop ice cream”).  (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(i))
  • You must declare the calories separately, for each topping listed on the menu or menu board (e.g., pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions on pizza; fudge, almonds, sprinkles on ice cream), specifying that the calories are added to the calories contained in the basic preparation of the menu item.

For example,

Ice Cream Scoop:  300 cal

Topping Added Cal
Almonds 25
Fudge 50

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Where toppings have the same calorie amounts (after rounding in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(2)), the calorie declaration for such toppings can be listed as a single calorie declaration adjacent to the toppings, provided that the calorie declaration specifies that the calorie amount listed represents the calorie amount for each individual topping.  (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(ii))

  • You must declare the calories for the basic preparation of the menu item for each size of the menu item.  The calories for each topping listed on the menu or menu board must be declared for each size of the menu item, or declared using a slash between the two calorie declarations for each topping where only two sizes of the menu item are available (e.g., “adds 150/250 cal”) or as a range for each topping in accordance with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7) where more than two sizes of the menu item are available (e.g., “adds 100-250 cal”). If a slash between two calorie declarations or a range of calorie declarations is used, the menu or menu board must indicate that the variation in calories for each topping arises from the size of the menu item to which the toppings are added. (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(iii))

For example,

Plain pizza pie: Small (12”) 500 cal * Medium (14”) 750 cal * Large (16”) 1000 cal

Toppings Added Cal

Small  /  Med  / Large

Pepperoni 200  300  400
Sausage 250  350  450
Green Peppers 15  20  25

or

Plain pizza pie: Small (12”) 500 cal * Medium (14”) 750 cal * Large (16”) 1000 cal

Toppings Added Cal (S/M/L pie)
Pepperoni 200-400
Sausage 250-450
Green Peppers 15-25
  • If the amount of the topping included on the basic preparation of the menu item decreases based on the total number of toppings ordered for the menu item (such as is sometimes the case with pizza toppings), you must declare the calories for each topping as single values representing the calories for each topping when added to a one-topping menu item, specifying that the calorie declaration is for the topping when added to a one-topping menu item.  (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(iv))

For example,

Plain pizza pie (14”): 750 cal

Toppings Added cal

(single topping)

Pepperoni 300
Sausage 350
Green peppers 20

Also, recall that if the pizza pie comes in multiple sizes, a range could be used.  For example:

Plain pizza pie: Small (12”) 500 cal * Medium (14”) 750 cal * Large (16”) 1000 cal

Toppings Added cal

(single topping S/M/L pie)

Pepperoni 200-400
Sausage 250-450
Green peppers 15-25

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IV.C.3.  What additional requirements apply to a combination meal?

Except as provided in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(6)(iv) (see Question IV.C.4):

  • When the menu or menu board lists two options for menu items in a combination meal (e.g., a sandwich with a side salad or chips), you must declare the calories for each option with a slash between the two calorie declarations (e.g., “350/450 calories”). (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(6)(i))
  • When the menu or menu board lists three or more options for menu items in a combination meal (e.g., a sandwich with chips, a side salad, or fruit), you must declare the calories as a range in accordance with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7) (e.g., “350-500 calories”). (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(6)(ii))
  • When the menu or menu board includes a choice to increase or decrease the size of a combination meal, you must declare the calorie difference for the increased or decreased size:
    • With a slash between two calorie declarations (e.g., “Adds 100/150 calories,” “Subtracts 100/150 calories”) if the menu or menu board lists two options for menu items in the combination meal; or
    • As a range in accordance with the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7) (e.g., “Adds 100-250 calories,” “Subtracts 100-250 calories”) if the menu or menu board lists three or more options for menu items in the combination meal. (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(iii))

IV.C.4. What exception applies to the additional requirements for a combination meal?

Where the menu or menu board describes an opportunity for a consumer to combine standard menu items for a special price (e.g., “Combine Any Sandwich with Any Soup or Any Salad for $8.99”), and the calories for each standard menu item, including each size option as described in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(6)(iii) if applicable, available for the consumer to combine are declared elsewhere on the menu or menu board, the requirements of 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(6)(i), (ii), and (iii) do not apply. (21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(5)(iv))

IV.C.5.  What format requirements apply for declaring calories for an individual variable menu item, a combination meal, and toppings as a range, if applicable?

When you declare calories as a range, you must use the format “xx-yy,” where “xx” is the caloric content of the lowest calorie variety, flavor, or combination, and “yy” is the caloric content of the highest calorie variety, flavor, or combination.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(7))

For examples of declaring calories as a range, see questions IV.C.1, IV.C.2, and IV.C.3.

D.  Exception from Additional Format Requirements for Variable Menu Items

IV.D.1. What exception applies to the additional format requirements for variable menu items?

If the variable menu item appears on the menu or menu board and is a self-service food or food on display, and there is no clearly identifiable upper bound to the range,e.g., all-you-can-eat buffet, then:

  • The menu or menu board must include a statement, adjacent to the name or price of the item, referring customers to the self-service facility for calorie information, e.g., “See buffet for calorie declarations.”
  • This statement must appear:
    • In a type size no smaller than the type size of the name or price of the variable menu item, whichever is smaller;
    • In the same color or a color at least as conspicuous as that used for that name or price; and
    • With the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for that name or price.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(8))

E. Additional Requirements that Apply to Beverages That Are Not Self-Service

IV.E.1.  What additional requirements apply to beverages that are not self-service?

For beverages that are not self-service:

  • You must declare calories based on the full volume of the cup served without ice, unless you ordinarily dispense and offer for sale a standard beverage fill (i.e., a fixed amount that is less than the full volume of the cup per cup size) or dispense a standard ice fill (i.e., a fixed amount of ice per cup size).
  • If you ordinarily dispense and offer for sale a standard beverage fill or dispense a standard ice fill, you must declare calories based on such standard beverage fill or standard ice fill.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(A)(9))

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F. Succinct Statement on Menus and Menu Boards to Provide Context About Calories in a Total Daily Diet

IV.F.1. What must the succinct statement say?

The succinct statement must say “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B))

IV.F.2. What options may I use for the succinct statement on menus and menu boards targeted to children?

For menus and menu boards targeted to children, you may use the following options as a substitute for, or in addition to, the succinct statement:

  • “1,200 to 1,400 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice for children ages 4-8 years, but calorie needs vary” or
  • “1,200 to 1,400 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice for children ages 4-8 years and 1,400 to 2,000 calories a day for children ages 9-13 years, but calorie needs vary”

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B))

IV.F.3. What are the format requirements for the succinct statement?

You must post the succinct statement:

  • 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

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B)(1))

IV.F.4. Where must the succinct statement appear on menus?

The succinct statement must appear on the bottom of each page of the menu.  On menu pages that also bear the statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information, the succinct statement must appear immediately above, below, or beside that statement.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B)(2))

IV.F.5. Where must the succinct statement appear on menu boards?

The succinct statement must appear on the bottom of the menu board, immediately above, below, or beside the statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B)(3))

G. Statement on Menus and Menu Boards Regarding the Availability of Additional Written Nutrition Information

IV.G.1. What must the statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information say?

The statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information (“statement of availability”) must say “Additional nutrition information available upon request.”

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C))

See section IV.H of this document for more information about the written nutrition information.

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IV.G.2. What are the format requirements for the statement of availability?

You must post the statement of availability:

  • 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

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C)(1))

IV.G.3. Where must the statement of availability appear on menus?

The statement of availability must appear on the bottom of the first page with menu items immediately above, below, or beside the succinct statement.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C)(2))

IV.G.4. Where must the statement of availability appear on menu boards?

The statement must appear on the bottom of the menu board immediately above, below, or beside the succinct statement.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C)(3))

H. Nutrition Information That Must be Made Available in Written Form

IV.H.1.  What nutrition information for a standard menu item must be available in written form?

The following nutrition information for a standard menu item must be available in written form:

  • 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)

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(A)(1)-(11))

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

IV.H.2.  How do I present the written nutrition information?

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 (see Question IV.H.1);
  • 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:

  • Rounding of these nutrients must be in compliance with 21 CFR 101.9(c); and
  • You may use the abbreviations allowed for Nutrition Facts for certain packaged foods in 21 CFR 101.9(j)(13)(ii)(B).

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii))

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IV.H.3.  When do the requirements for written nutrition information not apply?

If a standard menu item contains insignificant amounts of all the nutrients required to be disclosed in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(A)(1)-(11) (see Question IV.H.1), you do not have to include nutrition information regarding the standard menu item in the written form.  However, if you make a nutrient content claim or health claim, you must provide nutrition information on the nutrient that is the subject of the claim in accordance with 21 CFR 101.10.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(B))

IV.H.4.  How does the rule define “insignificant amount”?

The rule defines an “insignificant amount” as that amount that allows a declaration of zero in nutrition labeling, except that for total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and protein, it must be an amount that allows a declaration of “less than one gram.”

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(B)(1))

IV.H.5.  When may I use a simplified format for the written nutrition information?

You may use a simplified format for the written nutrition information for standard menu items that contain insignificant amounts of six or more of the required nutrients.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(B))

IV.H.6.  What information must the simplified format include?

The simplified format must include information, in a column, list, or table, on the following nutrients:

  • Total calories, total fat, total carbohydrates, protein, and sodium; and
  • Calories from fat, and any other nutrients identified in 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(A) that are present in more than insignificant amounts.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(B)(2)(i)-(ii))

For example, you may use the simplified format for a medium cola beverage as follows:

  • Total calories 200 calories
  • Total fat 0 g
  • Sodium 5 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 56 g
  • Sugars 56 g
  • Protein 0 g
  • Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and dietary fiber.

IV.H.7.  What statement must I include when I use the simplified format?

If the simplified format is used, you must include the statement “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.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(B)(3))

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IV.H.8.  How must I declare the written nutrition information for variable menu items?

For variable menu items, you must declare the written nutrition information as follows for each size offered for sale:

  • You must declare the written nutrition information for the basic preparation of the item and, separately, for each topping, flavor, or variable component.
  • For toppings, see Question IV.H.9.If the calories and other nutrients are the same for different flavors, varieties, and variable components of the combination meal, each variety, flavor and variable component of the combination meal, you do not have to list these separately.  You could list all items that have the same nutrient values together with the nutrient values listed only once.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(C)(1)-(3))

For example, for a meal that consists of a cheeseburger, side dish (fries or salad with fat-free dressing), and medium cola soft drink (diet or regular), you would provide information for the required nutrients for each component of the meal, i.e., the cheeseburger, the fries, the salad with fat-free dressing, a medium regular cola, and a diet cola. The nutrition information for the meal may appear as follows, which includes the simplified formats for the medium regular cola and diet cola:

Cheeseburger:

  • Total calories 470 calories
  • Calories from fat 190 calories
  • Total fat 21 g
  • Saturated fat 8 g
  • Trans fat 1 g
  • Cholesterol 75 mg
  • Sodium 880 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 43 g
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sugars 10 g
  • Protein 26 g

Medium fries:

  • Total calories 420 calories
  • Calories from fat 180 calories
  • Total fat 20 g
  • Saturated fat 3.5 g
  • Trans fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 500 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 54 g
  • Dietary fiber 6 g
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 5 g

Garden salad with fat-free dressing:

  • Total calories 150 calories
  • Calories from fat 30 calories
  • Total fat: 3 g
  • Saturated fat 0 g
  • Trans fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 340 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 27 g
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sugars 11 g
  • Protein 3 g

Medium Regular Cola:

  • Total calories 200 calories
  • Total fat 0 g
  • Sodium 5 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 56 g
  • Sugars 56 g
  • Protein 0 g
  • Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and dietary fiber.

Medium Diet Cola:

  • Total calories 0 calories
  • Total fat 0 g
  • Sodium 40 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 0 g
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 0 g
  • Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and dietary fiber

When the nutrient values for different flavors, varieties, or components of combination meals are the same, the nutrient values for such food items could be listed together with the nutrient values listed only once. For example:

Raspberry or Peach Flavored Iced Tea (14 ounces):

  • Total calories 5 calories
  • Total fat 0 g
  • Sodium 15 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 1 g
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 0 g
  • Not a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and dietary fiber

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IV.H.9. What additional format requirements apply to written nutrition information for toppings?

If the amount of the topping included on the basic preparation of the menu item decreases based on the total number of toppings ordered for the menu item (such as is sometimes the case with pizza toppings), the nutrients for such topping must be declared as single values representing the nutrients for each topping when added to a one-topping menu item, specifying that the nutrient declaration is for the topping when added to a one-topping menu item.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(C)(2)

IV.H.10.  What forms may I use to provide written nutrition information?

You may provide the written nutrition information in the following forms:

  • 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.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)(D))

I. Requirements for Food that is Self-Service or On Display

IV.I.1.  What nutrition information must I provide for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display?

You must provide:

  • Calories per displayed food item (e.g., a bagel, a slice of pizza, or a muffin); or
  • If the food is not offered for sale in a discrete unit, calories per serving (e.g., scoop, cup), and
  • The service or discrete unit used to determine the calorie content (e.g., “per scoop” or “per muffin”)

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(A))

IV.I.2.  Where must I place the nutrition information for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display?

You must place the calories for self-service foods and foods on display on either:

  • A sign adjacent to and clearly associated with the corresponding food (e.g., “150 calories per scoop);
  • A sign attached to a sneeze guard with the calorie declaration and the serving or unit used to determine the calorie content above each specific food so that the consumer can clearly associate the calorie declaration with the food, except that if it is not clear to which food the calorie declaration and serving or unit refers, then the sign must also include the name of the food, e.g., “Broccoli and cheese casserole – 200 calories per scoop”; or
  • A single sign or placard listing the calorie declaration for several food items along with the names of the food items, so long as the sign or placard is located where a consumer can view the name, calorie declaration, and serving or unit of a particular item while selecting that item.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(A))

IV.I.3.  What does “per displayed food item” mean for the purposes of the labeling requirements that apply to standard menu items that are self-service or on display?

For the purposes of the requirements for providing nutrition information for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display, “per displayed food item” means per each discrete unit offered for sale, for example, a bagel, a slice of pizza, or a muffin.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(A)(1))

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IV.I.4.  What does “per serving” mean for the purposes of the labeling requirements that apply to standard menu items that are self-service or on display?

For the purposes of the requirements for providing nutrition information for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display, “per serving” means, for each food:

  • Per serving instrument used to dispense the food offered for sale, provided that the serving instrument dispenses a uniform amount of the food (e.g., a scoop or ladle);
  • If a serving instrument that dispenses a uniform amount of food is not used to dispense the food, per each common household measure (e.g., cup or tablespoon) offered for sale or per unit of weight offered for sale, e.g., per quarter pound or per 4 ounces; or
  • Per total number of fluid ounces in the cup in which a self-service beverage is served and, if applicable, the description of the cup size (e.g., “140 calories per 12 fluid ounces (small)”).

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(A)(2))

IV.I.5.  How must I declare the calories for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display?

The following applies when you declare the calories for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display:

  • You must declare calories to the nearest 5-calorie increment up to and including 50 calories and to the nearest 10-calorie increment above 50 calories except that amounts less than 5 calories may be expressed as zero.
  • If you provide the calorie declaration on a sign with the food’s name, price, or both, you must declare the calories, accompanied by the term “Calories” or “Cal” and the amount of the serving or displayed food item on which the calories declaration is based:
    • In a type size no smaller than the type size of the name or price of the menu item whichever is smaller;
    • In the same color, or a color that is at least as conspicuous as that used for that name or price
    • Using the same contrasting background or a background at least as contrasting as that used for that name or price.
  • If you provide the calorie declaration on a sign that does not include the food’s name, price, or both, you must declare the calories, accompanied by the term “Calories” or “Cal” and the amount of the serving or displayed food item on which the calorie declaration is based, in a manner that is clear and conspicuous.
  • For self-service beverages, calorie declarations must be accompanied by the term “fluid ounces” and, if applicable, the description of the cup size (e.g., “small,” “medium”).

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(A)(3)(i)-(iii))

IV.I.6.  Do the requirements for the succinct statement and statement of availability apply to self-service foods and foods on display?

You must provide the succinct statement required by 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B) and the statement of availability required by 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C) for food that is self-service or on display and is identified by an individual sign adjacent to the food itself where such sign meets the definition of a menu or menu board as defined in 21 CFR 101.11(a).  The succinct statement required by 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(B) and the statement of availability required by 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(i)(C) may appear:

  • On the sign adjacent to the food itself,
  • On a separate, larger sign, in close proximity to the food that can be easily read as the consumer is making order selections, or
  • On a larger menu board that can be easily read as the consumer is viewing the food.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(B))

IV.I.7.  What written nutrition information must I provide for a standard menu item that is self-service or on display?

You must provide the nutrition information in written form required by 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii), except for packaged food insofar as it bears nutrition labeling information required by and in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii) and the packaged food, including its label, can be examined by a consumer before purchasing the food.

(21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(iii)(C))

An example of a packaged food that bears the required nutrition labeling is a packaged bag of chips that a consumer would purchase as part of a combination meal that includes the packaged chips with a sandwich when the consumer can pick up the packaged chips and read the Nutrition Facts label before purchasing the combination meal.

IV.I.8.  Do I need to provide written nutrition information for a packaged food that I offer for sale if the food already has a Nutrition Facts label?

It depends on whether the Nutrition Facts label for the food bears the nutrition information required by and in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii) and the consumer can examine the Nutrition Facts label before purchasing the food.  For example, you would not need to provide written nutrition information for a bottled soft drink (that bears the nutrition information required by and in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b)(2)(ii)) that a consumer would select from a refrigerated case before paying for the soft drink. However, you would need to provide written nutrition information for a bottled soft drink that you keep behind the counter and hand to the consumer after the consumer has paid for it.

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V. Determination of Nutrient Content

A. General Requirements

V.A.1.  How may I determine nutrient values for standard menu items?

You must have a reasonable basis for your nutrient declarations.  You may determine nutrient values by using any of the following:

  • Nutrient databases (with or without computer software programs);
  • Cookbooks;
  • Laboratory analysis; or
  • Other reasonable means, including:
    • Use of Nutrition Facts on labels on packaged foods that comply with the nutrition labeling requirements of section 403(q)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and 21 CFR 101.9;
    • FDA nutrients values for raw fruits and vegetables in Appendix C of 21 CFR part 101;
    • FDA nutrient values for cooked fish in Appendix D of 21 CFR part 101

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(1))

For nutrient databases, you may be able to obtain information from sources such as the “USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference” (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/).   In general, you should use a database that has a name and version number, as you are required to provide the name and version of the database to FDA, within a reasonable period of time upon request, as part of the information required to substantiate your nutrient values (as discussed further in section V.B. below).  In certain cases, the version number might be the date.  Databases may be updated to reflect more recent data and information, and different versions of a database may generate different nutrient values.  If available, you should consider information on how the database was used including calculations or operations (e.g., worksheets or computer printouts) to determine the nutrient values for the standard menu items, as you are required to provide such information to FDA, within a reasonable time period upon request, as part of the information required to substantiate your nutrient values (as discussed further in section V.B. below).   Some databases only provide nutrient values for certain food items such as foods typically used as ingredients in standard menu items; while other databases use software to compute nutrient values for a standard menu item prepared with several of the listed foods in varying amounts, taking into consideration the recipe and ingredient amounts used in the preparation.  Nutrient databases may be used to determine nutrient values regardless of whether they use computer software programs.

For cookbooks, you should use one that has been published.  If available, you should consider information provided by the cookbook or from the author or publisher about how the nutrient information for the recipes was obtained, as you are required to provide such information to FDA, within a reasonable time period upon request, as part of the information required to substantiate your nutrient values (as discussed further in section V.B. below).

For laboratory analyses, consider whether the laboratory provides copies of analytical worksheets, including the analytical method, used to determine and verify the nutrition information, as you are required to provide copies of such analytical worksheets to FDA, within a reasonable period of time upon request, as part of the information required to substantiate your nutrient values (as discussed further in section V.B. below).

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V.A.2.  How do I determine if the basis I use to determine nutrition information for a standard menu item is reasonable?

You must ensure that nutrient declarations for standard menu items are accurate and consistent with the specific basis used to determine nutrient values.  You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation (e.g., types and amounts of ingredients, cooking temperatures) and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which you determined your nutrient values.

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(2))

For example, if you determine nutrition information for a turkey sandwich based on a recipe along with nutrition information provided in a cookbook for the turkey sandwich, and the recipe specifies using one tablespoon of mayonnaise, you must take reasonable steps to ensure your employees use one tablespoon of mayonnaise when preparing the turkey sandwich–e.g., through appropriate instruction about the importance of the consistent application of one tablespoon of mayonnaise to satisfy the requirements of this rule.

B. Information Substantiating Nutrient Values

V.B.1.  What  are you required to provide to FDA to substantiate nutrient values?

You must provide to FDA, within a reasonable period of time upon request, information substantiating nutrient values including the method and data used to derive these nutrient values.

V.B.2.  If I determine nutrient values using nutrient databases, what specific information must I provide to FDA to substantiate nutrient values?

If you determine nutrient values using nutrient databases, the information must include the following:

  • The name and version (including the date of the version) of the database, and, as applicable, the name of the applicable software company and any Web site address for the database.  The name and version of a database should include the name and version of the computer software, if applicable;
  • The recipe or formula used as a basis for the nutrient declarations;
  • Information on:
    • The amount of each nutrient that the specified amount of each ingredient identified in the recipe contributes to the menu item; and
    • How the database was used including calculations or operations (e.g., worksheets or computer printouts) to determine the nutrient values for the standard menu items.
    • If this information is not available, certification attesting that the database will provide accurate results when used appropriately and that the database was used in accordance with its instructions;
  • A detailed listing (e.g., printout) of the nutrient values determined for each standard menu item;
  • Any other information pertinent to the final nutrient values of the standard menu item (e.g., information about what might cause slight variations in the nutrient profile such as moisture variations);
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual, employed at the covered establishment or its corporate headquarters or parent entity, who can certify that the information contained in the nutrient analysis is complete and accurate; and
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual employed at the covered establishment certifying that the covered establishment has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation (e.g., types and amounts of ingredients in the recipe, cooking temperatures) and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which its nutrient values were determined.

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(i)(A)-(G))

Because your corporate headquarters or parent entity may conduct the nutrient analysis or make arrangements for the nutrient analysis, the responsible individual who certifies that the information contained in the nutrient analysis is complete and accurate can be employed at either your establishment or at your corporate headquarters or parent entity.  Whether such individual is employed at your establishment or at your corporate headquarters or parent entity, it is critical that the individual who signs the certification has a factual basis for certifying that the nutrient analysis is complete and correct.

21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(i)(F)

In contrast, the responsible individual who certifies that you have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which your nutrient values were determined must be employed by your establishment, because an individual employed at your corporate headquarters or parent entity likely would not have a factual basis for certifying the actions of your specific establishment because such individual would not be present where the standard items are prepared, and, thus, likely could not certify the actions your establishment takes to comply with the rule.

21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(i)(G)

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V.B.3.  If I determine nutrient values using published cookbooks that contain nutritional information for recipes in the cookbook, what specific information must I provide to FDA to substantiate nutrient values?

If you determine nutrient values using published cookbooks that contain nutritional information for recipes in the cookbook, the information must include the following:

  • The name, author, and publisher of the cookbook used;
  • If available, information provided by the cookbook or from the author or publisher about how the nutrition information for the recipes was obtained;
  • A copy of the recipe used to prepare the standard menu item and a copy of the nutrition information for that standard menu item as provided by the cookbook; and
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual employed at the covered establishment certifying that the covered establishment has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation (e.g., types and amounts of ingredients in the recipe, cooking temperatures) and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which its nutrient values were determined. (Recipes may be divided as necessary to accommodate differences in the portion size derived from the recipe and that are served as the standard menu item but no changes may be made to the proportion of ingredients used.)

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(ii))

V.B.4.  If I determine nutrient values using laboratory analyses, what specific information must I provide to FDA to substantiate nutrient values?

If you determine nutrient values using laboratory analyses, the information must include the following:

  • A copy of the recipe for the standard menu item used for the nutrient analysis;
  • The name and address of the laboratory performing the analysis;
  • Copies of the analytical worksheets, including the analytical method, used to determine and verify nutrition information;
  • A statement signed and dated by the responsible individual, employed at the covered establishment or its corporate headquarters or parent entity, who can certify that the information contained in the nutrient analysis is complete and accurate; and
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual employed at the covered establishment certifying that the covered establishment has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation (e.g., types and amounts of ingredients in the recipe, cooking temperatures) and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which its nutrient values were determined.

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(iii))

V.B.5.  For nutrition information provided by other reasonable means, what specific information must I provide to FDA to substantiate nutrient values?

If you determine nutrient values using other reasonable means, the information must include the following:

  • A detailed description of the means used to determine the nutrition information;
  • A recipe or formula used as a basis for the nutrient determination;
  • Any data derived in determining the nutrient values for the standard menu item e.g., nutrition information about the ingredients used with the source of the nutrient information;
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual, employed at the covered establishment or its corporate headquarters or parent entity, who can certify that the information contained in the nutrient analysis is complete and accurate; and
  • A statement signed and dated by a responsible individual employed at the covered establishment certifying that the covered establishment has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the method of preparation (e.g., types and amounts of ingredients in the recipe, cooking temperatures) and amount of a standard menu item offered for sale adhere to the factors on which its nutrient values were determined.

(21 CFR 101.11(c)(3)(iv))

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VI. Voluntary Registration to be Subject to the Federal Requirements

A. Applicability

VI.A.1.  What establishments may voluntarily register to be subject to the requirements of the rule?

A restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is not part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items may voluntarily register to be subject to the requirements of the rule.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(1))

VI.A.2.  If I voluntarily register to be subject to the requirements of the rule, do I remain subject to non-identical State or local nutrition labeling requirements?

No. Restaurants and similar retail food establishments that voluntarily register will no longer be subject to non-identical State or local nutrition labeling requirements.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(1))

VI.A.3.  Who may register my establishment?

The authorized official of a restaurant or similar retail food establishment as defined in the rule, which is not otherwise subject to 21 CFR 101.11(b), may register with FDA.  (We discuss who the “authorized official” can be in the next question.)

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(2))

VI.A.4.  How does the rule define “authorized official of a restaurant or similar retail food establishment”?

The rule defines “authorized official of a restaurant or similar retail food establishment” as the owner, operator, agent in charge, or other person authorized by the owner, operator, or agent in charge to register the restaurant or similar retail food establishment, which is not otherwise subject to section 403(q)(5)(H) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, with FDA for the purposes of 21 CFR 101.11(d).

(21 CFR 101.11(a))

B. General Requirements for Voluntary Registration

VI.B.1.  What form do I use for voluntary registration?

You must use Form FDA 3757.  You can find this form at www.fda.gov/menulabeling.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(3) and (d)(4))

VI.B.2.  What registration information must an authorized official provide on Form FDA 3757?

Authorized officials for restaurants and similar retail food establishments must provide FDA with the following information on Form FDA 3757:

  • The contact information (including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address) for the authorized official;
  • The contact information (including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address) of each restaurant or similar retail food establishment being registered, as well as the name and contact information for an official onsite, such as the owner or manager, for each specific restaurant or similar retail food establishment;
  • All trade names the restaurant or similar retail food establishment uses;
  • Preferred mailing address (if different from location address for each establishment) for purposes of receiving correspondence; and
  • Certification that the information submitted is true and accurate, that the person submitting it is authorized to do so, and that each registered restaurant or similar retail food establishment will be subject to the requirements of section 403(q)(5)(H) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and 21 CFR 101.11.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(3))

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VI.B.3.  How does an authorized official register?

Authorized officials of restaurants and similar retail food establishments who elect to be subject to the requirements of the rule can register by visitingwww.fda.gov/menulabeling.  We have created a form (Form 3757) that contains fields requesting the information in 21 CFR 101.11(d)(3) and made the form available at this web site.  Registrants must use this form to ensure that complete information is submitted.

  • Information should be submitted by e-mail by typing complete information into the form (PDF), saving it on the registrant’s computer, and sending it by e-mail tomenulawregistration@fda.hhs.
  • If e-mail is not available or cannot be used, the registrant can either fill in the form (PDF) and print it out (or print out the blank PDF and fill in the information by hand or typewriter), and either fax the completed form to 301-436-2804 or mail it to FDA, CFSAN Menu and Vending Machine Registration, White Oak Building 22, rm. 0209, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(4)(i)-(ii))

VI.B.4.  How often must an authorized official renew a voluntary registration to keep it active?

To keep the establishment’s registration active, the authorized official of the restaurant or similar retail food establishment must register every other year within 60 days prior to the expiration of the establishment’s current registration with FDA.  Registration will automatically expire if not renewed.

(21 CFR 101.11(d)(5))

VI.B.5.  Is there a cost for voluntary registration?

No.

VI.B.6.  Are signatures obtained in the voluntary registration subject to 21 CFR part 11?

No.  Signatures obtained under 21 CFR 101.11(d) that meet the definition of electronic signatures in 21 CFR 11.3(b)(7) are exempt from the requirements of 21 CFR part 11.

(21 CFR 101.11(e))

VII. Misbranding

VII.1.  What are the consequences of failing to label a standard menu item offered for sale in a covered establishment in accordance with 21 CFR 101.11(b) or (c)?

A standard menu item offered for sale in a covered establishment is deemed misbranded under sections 201(n), 403(a), 403(f) and/or 403(q) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act if its label or labeling is not in conformity with 21 CFR 101.11(b) or (c).

(21 CFR 101.11(f))

Penalties for misbranding food are established in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and violations of 21 CFR 101.11 may result in enforcement action consistent with those penalties. For example, introducing, delivering for introduction, or receiving a misbranded food in interstate commerce, or misbranding a food while it is in interstate commerce or being held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce, are prohibited acts under section 301 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 331), carrying criminal penalties under section 303 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 333).  In addition, under section 302 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 332), the United States can bring a civil action in Federal court to enjoin a person who commits a prohibited action.  Under section 304(a)(1) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 334(a)(1)), a food that is misbranded when introduced into or while in interstate commerce or while held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce may be seized by order of a Federal court.

This guidance has been prepared by the Food Labeling and Standards Staff in the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The rule is codified at 21 CFR 101.11.

Does it pay to buy used equipment?

Buying used commercial foodservice equipment can save you a bundle in the short term. But is it a good investment? Tackle these 10 questions from the National Restaurant Association before deciding whether to buy new or used.

1. What are your equipment requirements?
Start by determining your operation’s needs, recommends Joseph Carbonara, editor-in-chief of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine.  Ask: Can the equipment help you execute your menu?  Can it handle the volume? Is it simple enough for your labor pool to operate? Consider any growth plans, like increased volume or menu expansion. He recommends investing in new equipment for cornerstone items, such as a brick oven for a pizzeria.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with the available equipment options by visiting local dealers or the NRA Show. Then decide what features you need.

2. What does it cost to purchase the item new?
“If a used item costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new one, I would strongly suggest looking at new,” says Carbonara. Expect better bargains at auctions, but buyer beware.

3. What is the total cost of ownership?
To determine whether you’re getting a good deal, consider the total cost of ownership. Factor in the expected lifespan, the cost of service/repairs and operational costs. “The initial purchase price is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the total cost to own and operate an appliance,” says Richard Young, senior engineer and director of education for the PG&E Food Service Technology Center.

The cost of energy and other commodities, such as water or fryer oil, often exceeds the initial purchase price by many thousands of dollars. You might think you’re getting a great deal on a low-cost piece of equipment, but you potentially are throwing away big dollars on the operating side, Young says. FSTC offers an online calculator to help you estimate life-cycle costs.

Tip: To slash your energy and water bills, look for equipment that qualifies for eitherEnergy Star and/or California Energy Wise incentives. See the lifetime cost savings of buying new Energy Star equipment vs. new conventional equipment. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to find used Energy Star equipment, notes Jeff Clark, director of theNational Restaurant Association’s Conserve program, which focuses on environmental sustainability in the restaurant industry. “Be sure to ask your equipment dealer though; you might get lucky,” says Clark.

4. Has the equipment been reconditioned?
Some dealers recondition used equipment before re-selling it, replacing parts and making repairs as needed. Ask specifically what work was done. Reconditioned equipment comes with a higher price tag but lower risk than equipment bought “as is.” You also could consider buying remanufactured equipment that has been stripped down and rebuilt.

5. What type of warranty is provided?
Used equipment generally sells “as is” from auctions and individual sellers, so don’t expect a warranty. In contrast, dealers often provide a 30-day warranty on parts; some might give 60 or 90 days on parts and labor. If you want the security of a lengthier warranty, consider a remanufactured or new item.

6. Can I get someone to service and replace parts?
Make sure parts are available and that a local technician can service and repair the equipment. Your chances are best with an American brand-name product, says Tim Schrack, vice president of purchasing for Omaha-headquartered Hockenbergs Foodservice Equipment & Supply, which has 10 locations throughout the country.

7. Who was the previous owner?
If you luck into finding equipment owned by a church or a school, it will have less “mileage” than the same piece operated by a high-volume quickservice restaurant. “It’s like buying the car that grandma drove once a week,” Carbonara says.

8. How well does the equipment operate?
“Ask to see the equipment operate,” says Hockenbergs’ Schrack. “We’ll hook up any piece of equipment on request … It’s tricky to buy anything used online.”

Tip: Ask an authorized service agent to inspect the unit to ensure that it is in good operating condition, Carbonara suggests.

9. Is the seller reliable?
Work with sellers who want to establish a long-term relationship with you, Carbonara advises. “You want someone who is concerned that they’re putting their name and reputation on the line and wants to be good with you for a whole bunch of deals, not just this one.”

10. Does the equipment stand the test of time?
Look for equipment built to last, with brand names know for endurance, says Jameel Burkett, president of Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies in Toledo, Ohio. For example, Hobart mixers and slicers can last for decades, he says, as can items like stainless steel tables and shelving, which have no mechanical parts that break.

Convection ovens and ranges tend to stand the test of time, Schrack says. But be wary of steamers, dishwashers, ice machines and other equipment that use water because they can develop lime buildup. If not maintained properly, aging refrigeration equipment can become energy-guzzlers and lose some performance FSTC’s Young says. “If the refrigerant has leaked, the unit has been overcharged or the coils are damaged, then that unit will probably not perform to spec.”

Create memorable dining experiences for guests with food allergies

What are you doing to improve the dining experience for guests with food allergens? Most people’s best memories are shaped by food and beverage occasions, and diners with food allergies shouldn’t have to have different expectations, says Chef Gary Jones. Learn more in this article from the National Restaurant Association.

Jones, the culinary dietary specialist for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, should know. The company’s 565 food and beverage locations serve 78 million meals a year. Last year, it received 650,000 special dietary requests.

To ensure diners with food allergies have as “magical” experiences as any other guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, Disney uses a high-touch, custom and individualized approach.

The first step: a dietary-request process. Disney encourages guests to share any food allergies when they book dining reservations at one of its parks or resorts. It also encourages them to speak with a chef or manager when they arrive.

Disney asks some guests to contact the resort by email at least two weeks before arriving and making all dining arrangements. That includes guests with several food allergies, as well as those with allergies or intolerances not listed under common food allergies, metabolic disorders and phenylketonuria, or PKU. People with PKU have dangerously high levels of an amino acid found in high-protein food, such as milk, cheese, nuts or meat.

Here are other steps Disney takes to serve guests with special dietary needs:

  • Put information at guests’ fingertips. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, guests can look up ingredients in any menu item at an allergy kiosk. Allergy menus also are available at several Walt Disney World and Disneyland test locations. And menus for special events, such as Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, include icons to indicate gluten-friendly items.
  • Seek guest feedback. By asking guests what they really expect when dining at its parks or resorts, Disney learned that people with food allergies wanted to make their own choices and not be singled out. “You can learn a lot from the guests by talking to them,” Jones says. “They’re probably more in touch with latest research than we are.”
  • Pilot, test, adjust and improve. Disney chefs continue to identify how to best address allergens in many existing menu items.  In the coming months, the company will implement allergy-friendly menus in many quick- and tableservice restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort (Florida) and Disneyland Resort (California). Its aim: to create craveable items with taste that also are allergy-friendly.
  • Ensure buy-in from cast members and leadership. Disney believes its critical success factors are leadership focus and priority; cast training (on-the-job, online and in-person classes), process champions, and property engagement. Part of its training is teaching employees how to say yes.
  • Don’t overlook guests with religious food restrictions.
  • Protect your guests – and brand. To meet the needs of the guests with allergies, Disney makes reasonable efforts not to introduce allergens through its sourcing, preparation and food-handling methods. Disclaimers on allergy-friendly menus note allergens can be introduced before Disney receives the food, or inadvertently through preparation or handling. Disney also acknowledges it doesn’t have separate kitchens or dining areas for guest with allergies.

The company believes its attempts to avoid introducing allergens while providing great guest service advances its mission to make every guest feel special.

Coffee at the tipping point

Just as this generation of coffee shops has made “venti” and “Frappuccino” part of the American vernacular, the newest foodservice coffee concepts are putting terms like “tasting notes” and “cold-brewed” on the radar.

Consumers’ growing interest in artisan craftsmanship has taken hold in the coffee category, as high-end independents lead a migration toward quality and as coffee drinkers express more interest in the sourcing and production behind their daily cup of Joe.

Observers expect mainstream coffee operators to continue to cater to those trends in the year ahead, but operators also will focus on staying relevant to the average everyday coffee drinker who is more interested in convenience.

Coffee continues to be an area of strength in the foodservice industry. Both bakery cafes and coffee cafes experienced 9.3 percent growth in sales from 2012 to 2013, according to Chicago-based Technomic’s Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.

“Coffee cafes are a bright spot of the quick-service segment,” says Deanna Jordan, senior research analyst at Technomic.

Tastes and preferences within the coffee category are shifting, however, as many coffee drinkers — particularly Millennials — are looking at the brewed beverage in a new way. They are gravitating toward authenticity and quality, and placing a high value on attributes such as ethical sourcing and sustainability.

“It really speaks to the whole coffee culture that has developed in kind of the same way that wine has,” Jordan says. “I see that propelling the upscaling of coffee beverages.

“Independent coffee shops that cater to the ‘coffee culture’ are popping up everywhere.”

This so-called “third wave” of gourmet coffee shops includes small chains such as Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle Coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, La Colombe and Philz Coffee. These operators, which often brew single cups to order and include tasting notes on their menus, are elevating coffee culture to a higher level, in much the same way that the second wave did in the late 1990s.

“I think the biggest story in coffee shops going into 2015 in the United States is the continued popularity of the third-wave movement,” says Elizabeth Friend, senior foodservice analyst at research firm Euromonitor. “These are places that focus wholeheartedly on the coffee itself: How it’s prepared, where it’s grown, everything about it. They are treating coffee like wine — something that’s brewed with care and precision.”

Their influence could result in a shift away from more indulgent coffee concoctions at more mainstream operators, Friend notes.

“Consumers are instead focused on different types of coffee and different roasts, so that’s where the energy is going in terms of new products,” she says.

The increasing consumer focus on quality and other attributes espoused by the third-wave coffee shops can be seen in some of the strategies of the mainstream coffee shops.

Data from Technomic support a shift toward higher quality. The firm in its recent Bakery & Coffee Café Trend Report found that 39 percent of bakery-café patrons would order a premium coffee instead of a regular blend if one were available. That percentage jumped to 47 percent among consumers aged 18-34.

The research also finds that more than a quarter of consumers — 27 percent at coffee cafes and 29 percent at bakery cafes — are more likely to patronize an outlet that serves organically grown coffee. A similar percentage of consumers expressed a preference for outlets serving “fair trade” coffee.

Mark DiDomenico, director of client solutions at research firm Datassential, says food purveyors in general, including foodservice coffee operators, “are looking at telling more of a story around the items they are serving.”

“Our big message for the past few years has been ‘authenticity,’” DiDomenico says. “Foodservice operators have been trying to get more authentic in what they are offering — things that have a regional style, that have some story behind them. This creates some excitement around the item.”

He cites hot sauce as an example, where restaurants are menuing specific flavors of hot sauce such as “habanero blend” or harissa.

“We are going to see that seep more into the coffee world,” DiDomenico says. “Rather than just dark roast, we are going to see Jamaican Blue Mountain dark roast, for example.

“People, especially Millennials, are looking for some specific marker on the foods and beverages they consume that tells them something special about it.”

DiDomenico notes that iced coffees also are still growing and becoming more popular.

“I think there is so much to do there,” he says. “[Operators] can just keep rolling through flavors and recipes, and keep the consumer engaged.”

Coffee drinkers also remain committed to convenience, and that is playing out in the coffee-shop segment in the form of increasing mobile-app functionality and a promise of delivery in 2015 from at least one of the major players.

“Despite the fact that the focus is still on the coffee, and the experience, and maximizing the value of the experience, at the other end we still have this much larger consumer trend, which is having everything on demand all the time,” says Friend of Euromonitor. “We are seeing this in the coffee shop as well, where people want everything included in that mobile app — they want to be able to pay, they want their loyalty included in that mobile app, they want to order, and they want it delivered if they can.

“These are sort of two polar opposite trends we see happening at the same time in the same space.”

Read the original post on Nation’s Restaurant News

California lawmakers introduce ‘fair scheduling’ bill

Large food, retail employers would be required to schedule shifts two weeks in advance according to this article from Nation’s Restaurant News by .
State lawmakers in California introduced a bill Tuesday that would require large food and retail employers to schedule workers at least two weeks in advance, or face penalties for last-minute staffing changes.
Known as the “Fair Scheduling Act,” Assembly Bill 357 was introduced by State Assembly members David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. As introduced, the bill would apply to food and retail employers with 500 or more employees. It is designed to address the growing number of employers implementing “just in time” and “on-call” scheduling practices to minimize labor costs.

The bill is the first of its kind at the state level, and aims to improve working conditions for part-time and low-wage workers, who often struggle with issues like child care, balancing shifts between two jobs, finding transportation, and pursuing education and training.

“Without fair and predictable work schedules, more and more Californians, particularly part-time and low-wage workers, are struggling to plan for basic life necessities, like child care or a much-needed second job,” Chiu said in a statement. “California can lead the way once again by providing for fair scheduling for the men and women on the front lines of an increasingly unequal economy.”

The lawmakers said the Great Recession has fundamentally changed California’s workforce. The state now has the largest percentage of hourly workers in the country.

Last year, Chiu, who served previously on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, introduced a similar bill there, which takes effect in July. That bill affects employers with more than 20 employees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

AB 357 would require large employers to pay penalties if shifts are changed with less than two week’s notice. What those penalties would be remains to be seen. The meat of the legislation is yet to be determined, and the bill is seen as a placeholder for further development.

Matt Sutton, vice president of government affairs and public policy for the California Restaurant Association, declined to comment on the specific legislation, given that details are not yet available.

The restaurant industry is expected to vigorously oppose attempts to further regulate scheduling, which is often based on unpredictable factors that likely won’t be addressed with a one-size approach.

“We’re staffing based on customer demand and foot traffic,” Sutton said. “Even the weather could be an issue. None of that is predictable.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.


Don’t be hooked by seafood fraud

Are you getting what you paid for from seafood suppliers? If your fish is mislabeled or short-weighted, you could be the victim of seafood fraud. As a result, you could be losing money and/or perpetuating the fraud by inadvertently deceiving your guests. In this article from the National Restaurant Association, learn more about seafood fraud and how to ensure your restaurant is protected.

Seafood fraud can occur anywhere along the supply chain, says Lisa Weddig, secretary of the Better Seafood Board, which works with restaurants, retailers and manufacturers to report suppliers that commit economic fraud.

The most common issues of seafood fraud are menu mislabeling, species substitution and short weighting. Menu mislabeling occurs when a restaurateur or retailer markets one species as another, such as serving tilapia but describing it as grouper. Similarly, species substitution occurs when a supplier sells a fish under another name, such as labeling a box of various types of snapper as red snapper.

Short-weighting occurs when a supplier adds moisture, water or another additive to make frozen fish appear to weigh more. For example, a supplier might include the weight of the ice glaze with the weight of the fish, Weddig explains.

“I slack mine out in water, put it in a perforated pan and weigh it,” says former NRA chairman Ken Conrad, president of Libby Hill Seafood. “I count every piece and weigh every piece.” If you order 1,000 pounds of seafood a month, and your weight is off by $1 a pound, you’re losing $1,000 a month, Conrad says.

Here are more tips to avoid seafood fraud:

Labeling
Use the
FDA seafood list to see the common, acceptable market and Latin names of seafood, Weddig suggests. Conrad prints the list and compiles a booklet for staff to consult in each of his restaurants.

Unsure you’re using the right terminology? The Better Seafood Board will review your menu for red flags, Weddig says.

If you run out of a fish, just say you’re out. Don’t try to substitute, Weddig says.

Purchasing
Find a reputational supplier
. If you’re just starting out or looking for a new supplier, call better-known, established restaurants in your area to find out whom they buy from, says Bart Farrell, food and beverage director, Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Then go visit their plants unannounced.

Farrell has been buying the majority of his seafood from the same supplier, Congressional Seafood, for 15 years. Clyde’s and Congressional established a multi-prong quality control plan, which includes strict procedures from cutting to packing to shipping. An employee signs off on each step to ensure quality, and the product undergoes a final check before shipping. That ensures the correct cut, count and weight for each product; otherwise, Clyde’s would send the product back.

Farrell also receives a copy of the seafood supplier’s quarterly Sanitation Inspection Audit and makes announced and unannounced visits. If you find trustworthy and reputable suppliers, they’re unlikely to risk their reputation and pull a fast one on you, he says. Otherwise, they stand to lose a fair amount of business.

Consider working with suppliers who belong to the Better Seafood Board. Members are committed to preventing seafood fraud and providing products that are accurately labeled for identity and weight.

Buy fish with skin on or whole fish when possible. “It’s a good way to avoid surprises,” Farrell says. After a fish is skinned and filleted, it’s difficult to tell a cod from Pollock, especially for someone not trained, Conrad says.

When buying fillets, train employees to properly identify commonly marketed species during receiving, the FDA recommends. “Frozen fillets tend to look alike, unless you really know your fish,” Weddig says.

Be skeptical of extra-low prices or incredible deals that are outside the norm. When someone offers you something that sounds too good to be true, “something’s fishy,” Conrad says.

Receiving
Confirm the species sold to you is the same as what was sold to your supplier, the FDA recommends.

Train staff to check the product against labels, invoices and purchase orders, the FDA suggests.

Establish procedures for weighing, taking temperature and notifying the chef of abnormalities with the product or inconsistencies with the label, invoice or purchase order, Farrell advises.

Train employees to double check weights. For example, thaw shrimp before checking the quality and consistency, Farrell recommends. Make sure the slacked weight is the same as the packaged weight. Make sure they understand the procedures to check the weight of frozen seafood, which could influence the final weight, Weddig says.

Familiarize your kitchen team with new offerings, starting with your chefs. When Clyde’s adds a new fish to the menu, the chefs work with it to develop new recipes. Then they spend time the prep team and cooks so they understand what the new fish should look and taste like, and most importantly, how to cook it properly.

Reporting
Contact the appropriate state, local or federal agency
if you have any concerns.

Top 5 breakfast trends for restaurants

Ethnic flavors, healthfulness and portability are expected to drive breakfast traffic this year, the National Restaurant Association found in its recent What’s Hot in 2015 chef survey.

Breakfast remains the industry’s fastest growing daypart, with visits rising 2 percent in the year ended in December 2014, according to NPD Group/Crest foodservice market research.

Take a look at the top five breakfast trends for 2015, according to Nation’s Restaurant News and industry expert, Bret Thorn.

Breakfast burritos

Portable, flavorful, a little exotic but not intimidating: that’s why restaurants keep adding breakfast burritos to their menus. Chefs pointed to this trend the fifth-most frequently in the survey.

Jack in the Box added two breakfast burritos to its permanent menu in August.

The Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito has sausage, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, and Cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, rolled in a large Guerrero tortilla and served with a side of salsa. The Grand Sausage Breakfast Burrito has hash browns and creamy Sriracha sauce instead of ham.

Prix-fixe brunches

Brunch is a time for indulgence, and chefs say customers respond particularly well to fixed price, all-you-can-eat affairs. It’s the trend chefs pointed to fourth-most frequently in the survey.

One such deal is the $28 brunch at Catalonian restaurant Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago, which includes three courses of hot dishes that change every week, as well as all-you-can-eat Spanish pastries, meats and cheeses.

Recent dishes have included a poached egg with truffle hollandaise, chorizo, brioche, tomato and espellete chile; roasted pork shoulder with romesco and grilled green onions; and eggs over crispy potatoes and chorizo in Vizcaina sauce.

Egg white omelets and sandwiches

Leading nutritionists are in the process of rehabilitating the reputation of egg yolks, but that news has apparently yet to make it to many consumers, as chefs noted egg white omelets and sandwiches third-most frequently as a top breakfast trend.

If that’s what customers want, restaurants are happy to oblige, with items like Au Bon Pain’s recently introduced Turkey Sausage & Egg White Flatbread, which also includes spinach and sharp Cheddar cheese.

Traditional ethnic breakfasts

Authenticity is a buzzword among trendspotters these days, and “traditional ethnic breakfast” was a top trend noted by chefs second-most frequently in the survey.

The same holds true for brunch, according to Ray Tang, chef and owner of Presidio Social Club in San Francisco.

“Everyone who enjoys brunch enjoys something that is Mexican in origin,” he said.

One such dish that’s becoming increasingly popular, especially in the Southwest and West, is chilaquiles, or fried tortillas, salsa and eggs.

At Outpost in Goleta, Calif., chef Derek Simcik tops fried tortillas with avocado purée, crema, chorizo salsa and sunny side up eggs.

“I think it’s a great dish to have after a night of drinking,” Simcik said. “You have the tortillas to help absorb the alcohol from the night before and then the pork and egg to help fill up your stomach to tackle the day ahead.”

Ethnic-inspired breakfast items

Chefs have found that their customers are looking for variety and vibrant flavors in the morning, and noted the trend most frequently in the survey. Denny’s recently responded to that demand with the introduction of a Rio Ranchero Skillet, breakfast sausage mixed with seasoned red skinned potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers and onions, jalapeño peppers, pico de gallo and a new five-spice pepper sauce, topped with two eggs.

Just in Time for Valentine’s Day, Caramel: The go-to dessert flavor

Caramel. Diners crave its sweetness and chefs love its versatility. It is the No. 3 dessert flavor on restaurant menus, second only to the ever-popular chocolate and vanilla, according to the most recent data from Datassential MenuTrends published in a recent article by Nation’s Restaurant News, written by .

Not only is caramel a top flavor, but the cooked sugar with a sweet taste and appealing tan color has also been growing on menus, appearing on 10 percent more menus than it did just four years ago, Datassential reported. Fine-dining chefs seem to love caramel most, as the ingredient appears on nearly 50 percent of all fine-dining dessert menus.

“Caramel is definitely a key flavor in desserts … it’s a core ‘go-to’ flavor right beside chocolate and vanilla,” said Jana Mann, senior director of Datassential MenuTrends.

“It’s growing in the shorter and longer term as chefs continue to add it to menus. It’s versatile, so you find it topping ice cream and pies, in ribbons through cheesecakes and brownies, in ethnic desserts like flan, as well as in specialty coffee drinks and milkshakes,” Mann said.

Among the many fine-dining chefs enjoying caramel’s versatility is John Delpha, who uses the popular ingredient in several desserts at the recently opened Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar in Somerville, Mass. Currently on the menu is a Jack Daniels Caramel Banana Parfait, a bananas Foster-meets-cheesecake creation with layers of no-cook cheesecake made of a cream cheese and pastry cream mixture, sliced bananas, graham cracker crumbs and a bourbon-infused caramel. Rosebud also offers a Turtle Pie, made with pecans, caramel, chocolate and whipped cream.
Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar’s Caramel Panna Cotta. Photo: Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar

“Caramel is a higher form of sugar,” Delpha said. “It has so many layers of depth … it lends itself to a lot of adaptations.”

Caramel’s ability to take on all kinds of flavors has inspired a growing number of desserts featuring caramel infused with bourbon or other spirits. Bourbon caramel is found on about 2 percent of fine-dining dessert menus, and it has grown by 36 percent over the past two years, Datassential found.

For example, Nada, a contemporary Mexican concept in Ohio, with locations in Cincinnati and Columbus, offers a Warm Chocolate Torte with bananas Foster gelato and Meyer’s dark rum caramel. Nada chef and owner David Falk developed the chocolate soufflé-brownie mashup, featuring a custom-made gelato and rum caramel, for his chocolate-loving mother. The rum caramel, he says, was added to bring a little complexity to the dish as a whole.

“It’s one of our most popular desserts,” Falk said.

Several restaurants are using an unexpected touch of tequila caramel in their desserts, including La Sirena Clandestina, a rustic Latin eatery in Chicago, which offers a Tres Leches with mezcal caramel, whipped crème fraîche and cashew brittle. Similarly, Sol Mexican Cucina in Newport Beach, Calif., with another location in Scottsdale, Ariz., offers the Blondie La Guera, a white chocolate blondie with white chocolate and pecans, served warm with ice cream and cajeta envinada, which is caramel sauce with a touch of reposado tequila. Rounding out that dessert is fruit and toasted pecans.

Though often used in drizzle or sauce form, some chefs are exploring caramel in different textures.

Alina Bothen, the new executive chef at Red Light Cocktails & Dessert Bar in Washington, D.C., recently added a Caramel Panna Cotta to the menu. Bothen makes a super creamy caramel-flavored custard, then tops it with a layer of chocolate sauce, and garnishes it with brûléed bananas, bacon peanut brittle and whipped cream.

At the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., executive pastry chef Rabii Saber makes a Tres Leches Cake with dulce del leche — which is sweetened milk cooked until it caramelizes — and toasted coconut that is topped with caramel beads, chocolate shavings and ribbons of caramel.

“The different textures — the crunchiness from the beads and the smooth flavor from the caramelized milk — enhance the taste of the dessert, ” Saber said.

Restaurant Menu Watch: Bone broth trend is nothing new

The latest trendy food is arguably the most mundane one yet: Broth, according to a recent article from Nation’s Restaurant News, written by senior food editor Bret Thorn.

Specifically it’s meat broth, which is what most broth is, but chefs and trendspotters are calling it “bone broth.”

Julia Moskin declared in The New York Times that bone broth is one of the hottest things out there, “ranking with green juice and coconut water as the next magic potion in the eternal quest for perfect health.”

Practically everyone is talking about it, lauding its restorative qualities and elemental wholesomeness like a schoolmistress in Victorian England.

Elle invited sisters Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, authors of “The Art of Eating Well,” to expound on its glories.

“We see it as a frugal, grounding way to get back to our roots in the midst of an often hectic urban life,” they say, and then explain how to make it in eight steps instead of two: Cover bones and maybe aromatics with water, simmer for many hours.

Wellness Mama goes on about it for a good 1,600 words, noting its heritage — “Broth is a traditional food that your grandmother likely made often (and if not, your great-grandmother definitely did)” — and its ability to improve the quality of just about any part of the body, including joints, hair, skin, nails, immune system, digestion and brain function. It can possibly even help remove cellulite, she says.

Kobe Bryant is partially to blame for the craze. The Los Angeles Lakers basketball star has gone public declaring it a favorite pre-game meal and the foundation of his diet.

It’s also a paleo thing.

In the restaurant world, New York City chef Marco Canora of Hearth is a broth pioneer,having opened Brodo, which is Italian for “broth,” in November.

Broth has been available elsewhere, of course — because it’s, you know, broth — but Jola Café in Portland, Ore., started offering five varieties of it earlier this month.

But not everyone sees the charm of bone broth. Vegan and anti-animal-cruelty website onegreenplanet.org points out that bone broth is not new, that nutritional claims about it being a curative panacea are suspect and that “It’s Gross and Inhumane” because it comes from the bones of “once living, sentient beings.”

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.

Toast is a flavor: Incredible food trends in 2015

Toast is popping up all over. It’s one of the hot new tastes of 2015, along with seaweed and chocolate dark enough to resemble a black hole. In this article from USA Today written by Elizabeth Weise, learn what new trends of 2015 are making headlines.

All were on display at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where more than 19,000 buyers from supermarkets, delis and specialty markets roamed the aisles looking for what’s new, exciting and salable in food.

Paul Poplis | Getty Images

Toast was one of the most surprising flavors. Not toasted, as in toasted pumpkin oil or toasted hemp seeds, though both were there.

This was toast as in the flavor of roasted bread, dripping with melted butter and possibly with a light dusting of sugar and cinnamon.

Toast as a food is hot enough to burn the fingers right now. Small cafes and restaurants nationally are embracing it as comfort food, featuring artisan bread, small dairy butter and toppings from almond butter to salted avocado.

Now that same flavor is showing up as a taste. The Republic of Tea introduced Cinnamon Toast Tea, which has the caffeine of tea alongside the flavor and aroma of the favorite kids’ breakfast treat.

And from B.T. McElrath Chocolatier in Minneapolis comes Buttered Toast chocolate bars.

“We didn’t want to use a processed cereal, so we went with honest toast,” says McElrath. He buys bread from a local artisan bakery, slathers it in butter from a local dairy and then wraps the crunch-salty mixture in milk chocolate.

The 40 percent chocolate he uses works well in the deliciously salty-crunchy-sweet bar. But elsewhere, dark, darker, darkest is the trend when it comes to chocolate.

“We’re really seeing our highest sales in our highest cocoa butter chocolate,” said Chelsea Jess with Kakao Berlin. Though based in Port Orchard, Wash., the company has all its chocolates made in Berlin.

“The trend is definitely towards darker chocolate. People like it because its high in flavonoids, it has less sugar and it’s great for the brain,” she said.

Another example was Taza Chocolate’s stone-ground chocolates, starting at 60 percent Dominican dark and rising to 87 percent Bolivian dark. Their unrefined chocolate lets the cacao “shout loud and proud,” as the company proclaims.

From the jungle to the sea, seaweed is another flavor that’s turning up in in multiple products. Ocean’s Halo is selling seaweed chips in flavors such as Texas BBQ and Chili Lime.

“Seaweed is healthy and it’s really, really sustainable,” said co-founder Mike Shim. “It’s got 130 percent of your vitamin B12 requirements and 30 percent of your vitamin A. It’s a real superfood.”

Seaweed also showed up in other snacks, such as almond seaweed crisps and onion seaweed crunch from Ocean Snack.

Alternative type cereals were also popular, though in forms that could—possibly—fool kids into thinking they were getting the unhealthy bowls of sugar they so crave. One was Pereg’s Quinoa Pops cereals, which come in strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and plain varieties. The Andean grain pops up to taste remarkably like rice puffs.

Should that not seem healthy enough, get ready for a wave of healthy snacks that appeared at the show and and are heading for a supermarket shelf near you soon.

Possibly the hardest sell—though surprisingly tasty—were Brussel Bytes and Snip Chips from Wonderfully Raw in Watsonville, Calif. Forget kale. Brussels sprouts and parsnips are the next big thing in healthy snacking.

The sprouts are dried and come in three flavors: chili pumpkin seed, tamarind apple and cheezy herb. Parsnips, which dry up with a faintly sweet flavor, taste very nice indeed when coated with either dill pickle, cheezy herb truffle or chipotle lime cilantro flavors.

While obscure tastes, this is by no means a niche market. The specialty foods industry’s retail sales were $70 billion in 2013, according to the Specialty Food Association. What shows up at the show tends to hit local supermarkets within a year or so.


Reading labeling: FDA regulations

By Sara Rush, Senior Associate Editor, Restaurant Business Online

They’ve been kicked around since the idea was first given life in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Now, at last, the Food and Drug Administration has released final menu-labeling rules for chains, and operators have a year to fall in line. “There are no new wrinkles we didn’t anticipate … no secret hidden traps we’re aware of,” says Scott DeFife, executive vice president, policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association. That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, of course, such as calorie counts of foods made by hand not being an exact science. Here are a few need-to-know points from the long-anticipated decree:

Alcohol counts, sometimes

Because they are listed on the menu, cocktails and other specialty drinks count as menu items that just so happen to include alcohol and are thus covered in labeling requirements. “It’s on the menu and fits all other criteria,” says DeFife. There also will be some coverage of wine and beer, but the NRA is waiting on more guidance with those rules, DeFife says.

Leeway for shared meals

“There’s flexibility for menu items that serve multiple people,” says DeFife. This includes items such as pizza and family meals, which aren’t intended as a single serving. The calorie count of these meals can be listed for the whole menu item or broken down by individual serving unit (such as a slice of pizza).

Relief for special orders

The rules only apply to regular-menu items, not off-menu requests or specials. “Pizza restaurants, for example, don’t need to [analyze] every potential combination of toppings known to man, just the standard builds,” says DeFife.

More than one way to list the RDA

It doesn’t come as a shock that restaurants need to cite the recommended daily allowance of 2,000 calories on the menu and menu boards, but it’s still not something operators are too keen to promote. The FDA has laid out some rules for formatting and placement (type size, contrasting color, and so on), but has left exact specifications to the operator.

It won’t bankrupt you

“There’s a lot of misinformation,” says DeFife. Many opposed to the rules, especially lobbyists in the convenience-store and grocery markets, have put out misleading information about the cost of menu analysis, he says. “You don’t have to have a $1,000 analysis on all menu items or send them all to labs. There are other, low-cost ways of getting the calorie count,” such as working with analysis partners.

Small chains can participate, too

All chains with 20 or more units are required to abide by the national regulations. For chains less than 20 units, in an area where state or local restrictions vary from the federal rules, operators can opt into the federal program. By doing so, they will get protection from regulations that are potentially more stringent, says DeFife.