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Menu Labeling Requirements At-A-Glance

Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.

As required by statute, FDA’s final rule for nutrition labeling in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will provide consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner for the foods they eat and buy for their families. Posting calories on menus and menu boards and providing other nutrient information in writing in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will fill a critical information gap and help consumers make informed and healthful dietary choices.

Covered establishments will list calorie information for standard menu items on menus and menu boards and a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. Other nutrient information—total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein—will have to be made available in writing on request.

In addition, covered establishments will also be required to post a statement on menus and menu boards about the availability of such additional written nutrition information. To be covered, an establishment must be a restaurant or similar retail food establishment, as defined in the final rule. In addition, such establishment must: (1) be part of a chain of 20 or more locations, (2) doing business under the same name, (3) offering for sale substantially the same menu items.

Examples of restaurant-type foods that are covered when sold by a facility that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations include:

  • Meals from sit-down restaurants
  • Foods purchased at drive-through windows
  • Take-out food, such as pizza
  • Foods, such as made-to-order sandwiches, ordered from a menu or menu board at a grocery store or delicatessen
  • Foods you serve yourself from a salad or hot food bar
  • Muffins at a bakery or coffee shop
  • Popcorn purchased at a movie theater or amusement park
  • A scoop of ice cream, milk shake or sundae from an ice cream store
  • Hot dogs or frozen drinks prepared on site in a convenience or warehouse store
  • Certain alcoholic beverages

Foods not covered include:

Certain foods purchased in grocery stores or other similar retail food establishments that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consuming, such as pounds of deli meats, cheeses, or large-size deli salads.

The FDA published a final rule to extend the compliance date to May 7, 2018.  View a statement on Menu Labeling Compliance.

State and Local Requirements

State and local governments may also have requirements for menu information and labeling for consumers.  For example, in Wake County, North Carolina, you must provide nutrition labels on products you make and package on site that customers serve themselves, such as “grab & go” foods.  Generally, these labels must include a complete listing of ingredients by order of weight, the source of any food allergens, and complete nutrition content.