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U. S. Food and Drug Administration Releases Rules for Menu Labeling Regulations

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. This law sets the requirements for nutrition labeling of food items at chain restaurant establishments. Section 4205 of the law states that chain restaurants, food retail establishment, and vending machines with 20 or more locations under the same trade name (regardless of ownership) must provide consumers with nutrition labeling information. Operators with less than 20 locations may choose to participate if they wish.

As detailed in the law, the FDA must provide detailed rules for restaurants on how to present calories on menus, menu boards and drive thru boards, as well as how to present and provide additional nutrition information to consumers.  A little over a week after the initial deadline of March 23, 2011, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released their proposed guidelines to implement this law.

On April 1, 2011, the FDA published two proposed rules that address implementation of the menu labeling law. These proposed rules are entitled “Food labeling: Nutrition labeling of standard menu items in restaurants and similar retail food establishments,” and “Food labeling: Calorie labeling of articles of food in vending machines.” In these publications the FDA lays out their proposed definitions of key phrases relating to the law as well as rules for implementation.

The release of these documents is the next step towards educating the public about their food choices. However, these documents are not the final version of the national menu labeling guidelines and no enforcement date has been named. According to the document there will be a 60-day public comment period for restaurants and the industry to provide feedback to the FDA regarding these regulations.  

Over the next week MenuMax will be releasing more detailed information about the FDA’s proposed guidelines. In the mean time please contact if you have further questions.


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