The FDA has finalized two rules that require chain restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations to list calorie information on a menu or menu board.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home, and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, said in a press release. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

The rules, which are required under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, include food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, operate under the same name and sell the same menu items at each location. Food facilities in entertainment venue chains, such as movie theaters and amusement parks, also fall under the menu labeling rules.


Continue Reading

Every establishment that meets the criteria must clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for each menu item next to its name or price. The rule only covers permanent menu items; seasonal items, daily specials and condiments that are found on a counter or table are exempt.

For vending machines, operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines must disclose calorie information sold from the machines.

In an effort to help consumers understand the significance of calorie information in terms of daily intake, the rule will require menus and menu boards to include the following statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Menus and menu boards must also note that written nutrition information with total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein can be provided upon consumer request.

The establishments that meet the criteria will have 1 year to comply with the new labeling requirements, and vending machine operators will have 2 years.

The press release from the FDA has more information on the new rules, including links to each rule in full.