Menu Labeling


Since its original introduction in 2008, Food Directions has been actively involved in the first ever mandatory, uniform nutrition labeling rule.  Throughout these 7 years, we have worked with legislators and regulators on this issue and have developed a deep and thorough understanding of menu labeling, which covers restaurants, grocery and convenient stores, and entertainment venues, among others.  

Countdown to Compliance


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring disclosure of certain nutrition information on standard menu items in chain restaurants and retail foods establishments. This regulation was a provision in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act.

Who is covered?

The rule covers chain restaurants and retail food establishments with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering substantially the same menu items.

  • Must be a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that offers restaurant type food
    • Examples of covered entities: Bakeries, Cafeterias, Coffee shops, Convenience stores, Delicatessens, Food service facilities located within entertainment venues, Food service vendors, Food take-out and or delivery establishments, Grocery stores, Retail confectionary stores, Superstores, Quick service restaurants, and Table service restaurants.
    • Exemptions: Schools
  • Types of restaurant type food:
    • Examples of food that would generally be considered restaurant type food
      • Food for immediate consumption at sit-down or quick service restaurant
      • Food purchased at a drive-through establishment
      • Take-out and delivery pizza; hot pizza at grocery and convenience stores that is ready to eat; pizza slice from a movie theater
      • Hot buffet food, hot soup at a soup bar, and food from a salad bar
      • Foods ordered from a menu/menu board at a grocery store intended for individual consumption
    • Examples of food that would not generally be considered restaurant type food
      • Certain foods bought from bulk bins or cases in grocery stores
      • Foods to be eaten over several eating occasions or stored for later use
      • Food that are usually further prepared before consuming
      • Foods sold by weight that are not self-serve and are not intended solely for individual consumption, either prepackaged or packed upon customer request
  • Must be part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items
    • Locations:
      • Opt in: Restaurants or similar food establishments that does not satisfy these criteria may choose to be covered by the rule by registering with FDA.
      • Transportation: Transportation venues such as planes and trains are not covered since they do not have a fixed position or site.
      • Franchisee: Regardless of the type of ownership of the locations, individual franchises under the same name are covered.
      • No name: If there is no name of the establishment presented to the public but offer for sale substantially the same menu, it is covered.
    • Standard menu items:
      • Includes: 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.
      • Excludes: Condiments, Daily specials, Temporary menu items and market test items, Custom orders, and Alcohol beverages that are food on display and are not self-service.

What is required?

Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item.

In addition, covered establishments will also be required to post two statements on menu and menu boards:

  • A succinct statement regarding total daily caloric intake: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
    • A similar, but slightly modified succinct statement can be used for child-specific menus or menu boards.
  • A statement about the availability of such additional written nutrition information.

In the case of multiple-serving standard menu items, the calorie declaration must be for the whole menu item as listed on the menu or menu board, as usually prepared and offered for sale (e.g., “pizza pie: 1600 calories”), or per discrete serving unit as long as the discrete serving unit and total number of discrete serving units are declared on the menu or menu board, and the menu item is usually prepared and offered for sale divided in discrete serving units.

Compliance Date - May 5, 2017

What can Food Directions do?

Food Directions can analyze the nutrient content of all of your menu items, create standardized recipes cards, create nutrition information pamphlets, and consult with you to make sure your new menu boards meet the criteria laid out in the FDA regulation.

Need help implementing this new regulation?