What is in this article?:
- 5 musts for menu labeling
- Menu labeling compliance guidelines
Healthy Dining offers guidelines to help restaurants achieve accurate menu labeling
Editor's note: The following column is from Healthy Dining, a company that has been at the forefront of restaurant nutrition since 1990. This series provides restaurant operators with information on industry-related nutrition topics. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nation's Restaurant News.
By April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to release the final rules and compliance date for the federal menu labeling regulations that were passed as part of the healthcare reform act in 2010.
The legislation will require all restaurants with 20 or more U.S. locations to print calories on menus and menu boards; provide additional nutrition information (fat, saturated fat, sodium, protein, etc.) upon request within the restaurant setting (through a brochure, poster, etc.); and print a recommended intake statement on menus and menu boards (statement will be provided by the FDA with the final rules).
Some jurisdictions have already implemented their own menu labeling legislation, including New York City, King County in Washington, the city of Philadelphia, the states of California and Oregon, and a few others. Each of these regions requires varying information and methods of disclosure. However, the federal legislation will pre-empt all the state and regional menu labeling provisions to establish one consistent national standard across the nation.
Menu labeling has the potential to improve our nation’s health by contributing to the prevention and control of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other nutrition-related conditions. A recent survey by Technomic showed that 65 percent of restaurant patrons favor nutritional labeling in restaurants, with the strongest demand for listing of calories and sodium content.
An important factor affecting the public health impact of the new menu labeling legislation is accuracy of the information. Nutrition information that is inaccurate and/or unreliable will compromise consumer trust in menu labeling and could destroy brand loyalty.
Restaurants can offer guests accurate nutrition information and protect their brand image by following five guidelines.