Food

Overview of FDA Labeling Requirements for Restaurants, Similar Retail Food Establishments and Vending Machines

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This page provides information on the menu and vending machines labeling requirements.

For more information see, Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements Main Page.


Menu Labeling Requirements At-A-Glance

In a nutshell

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.

Effective date: Based on comments, the FDA has extended the effective date from six months to one year after the date of publication of the final rule. 

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Vending Machines Labeling Requirements At-A-Glance

In a nutshell

Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. The FDA’s final rule for vending machine calorie labeling, coupled with the requirements for menu labeling, aim to provide consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner for the foods they eat and buy for their families. Even though some foods sold from vending machines already bear calorie information, this labeling is not always visible before purchase. Calorie labeling of foods sold in vending machines will help make calorie information available to consumers in a direct, accessible, and consistent manner to enable them to make informed and healthful dietary choices.

The FDA is allowing two years from the date of publication of the vending machine labeling final rule for covered vending machine operators to comply with the requirements.

FDA received approximately 250 comments on the vending machine labeling proposed rule issued on April 6, 2011. FDA reviewed and considered each comment carefully before issuing the final rule. 

What’s required?

  • Disclosing calorie information of foods sold in vending machines operated by a person owning or operating 20 or more machines, subject to certain exceptions.
  • Calorie information may be placed on a sign (e.g., small placard, sticker, poster) near the article of food or selection button. Electronic or digital displays may also be used.
  • Posting of calorie information for foods sold from bulk vending machines (e.g., gumball machines, mixed nut machines).
  • Disclosing contact information of covered operators on the machines or otherwise with the required calorie declarations to enable FDA to contact operators for enforcement purposes. 

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Page Last Updated: 11/26/2014
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