Restaurants with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items will soon be required to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu labeling regulations by 1 December.
Many of the 250,000 restaurants in this group are already in the process of verifying the accuracy of their nutrition information. As outlined in the FDA’s recently released menu labeling guidance document and the final rules, restaurants must have a “reasonable basis” for nutrient declarations. In other words, restaurants must meet specific requirements to determine the calorie information listed on menus and menu boards and values for the required additional written nutrition information.
According to the FDA’s rules, a reasonable basis for nutrient declarations includes nutrient databases (with or without computer software programs); cookbooks; laboratory analysis, and other reasonable means, including nutrition facts on labels of packaged foods that comply with the nutrition labelling requirements as well as FDA nutrient values for raw fruits, vegetables and cooked fish.
Nutrition information posted must include calories as well as calories from fat; total fat; saturated fat; trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; total carbohydrates; dietary fiber; sugars, and protein.
Restaurant chains that fall under these requirements must also post two specific statements in addition to calorie counts and other nutritional data, according to Healthy Dining President Anita Jones-Mueller. One statement will let guests know that a “typical” daily diet totals about 2,000 calories and the other will inform them that additional information is available on request.