FDA to Mandate Menu Labeling for Restaurant and Vending Machine Chains

April 4, 2011

Calorie listing will be required of restaurants and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

Restaurants and vending machines with 20 or more locations will be required to provide calorie listings thanks to a rule proposed by FDA last week.

All menus and menu boards will have to display calorie amounts, and further nutritional information will need to be available upon request.

To give consumers a better sense of calorie intake based on the needs of a daily diet, FDA has also proposed the following statement be required on all menus and menu boards: “A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.”

Examples of establishments that fit the bill include fast food establishments, coffee shops, bakeries, and certain grocers and convenience stories. Establishments that aren’t immediately purposed to sell food-e.g. movie theaters, airplanes, and bowling alleys-will not be subject to the proposed regulation.

“Americans now consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home,” said FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. “While consumers can find calorie and other nutrition information on most packaged foods, it's not generally available in restaurants or similar retail establishments. This proposal is aimed at giving consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information.”

FDA is welcoming public comments for the restaurant and vending machine rules before their respective deadlines of June 6 and July 5 of this year. Read FDA’s press release for more information on submitting comments.

Final rules are expected by the end of the year.