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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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

New Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements Main Page

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two proposed regulations that would ensure calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines with 20 or more locations. FDA invites members of the public to submit their comments on the proposed regulations by visiting www.regulations.gov.

The proposals would ensure that consumers have more information when they make food choices outside of their homes.

Key facts about the proposed rules are included below.

Proposed Requirements for Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments

Establishments Covered

  • Restaurants or similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.
  • Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to these proposed regulations.
  • A "restaurant or similar retail food establishment" would be an establishment that sells restaurant or restaurant-type food whose primary business activity is the sale of food to consumers. An establishment's primary business activity would be the sale of food to consumers if either:
    1. the establishment presents itself as a restaurant, or
    2. greater than 50 percent of the establishment's total floor area is used for the sale of food.
  • Restaurants and similar retail food establishments not covered (for example, if they are part of a chain with fewer than 20 locations) can choose to “opt in” to the federal menu labeling requirements by registering with the FDA every other year.
  • The proposed rule invites the public to comment on whether additional types of food establishments should or should not be covered by the new rules.

Calorie Display

  • Calories would be disclosed on all menus and menu boards, including menu boards at drive-through locations. The term “Calories” or “Cal” would be required to be posted on menus and menu boards next to the number of calories.
  • Calorie information would be displayed clearly and prominently.
  • Calories for variable menu items, such as combination meals, would be displayed in ranges. An example of a combination meal could be a choice of sandwich, side dish and beverage.
  • For foods on display, calories would be listed per item or per serving on a sign next to the food.
  • For self-service foods, such as a salad bar in a restaurant, calories also would be listed per serving or per item on a sign next to the food.

Statement Regarding Calorie Intake

  • A succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake would be posted prominently on menus and menu boards to help the public understand the significance of the calorie information provided on menus and menu boards. The following statement is proposed: “A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary.”

Availability of Additional Written Nutrition Information

  • A clear and prominent statement would be posted on menus and menu boards that states that additional written nutrition information is available to consumers on request.
  • The following written nutrition information for standard menu items would be available upon request: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.

Relationship to State and Local Laws

  • State and local governments would not be able to impose any different or additional nutrition labeling requirements for food sold in restaurants and similar retail food establishments covered by the Federal requirements.
  • State and local governments can establish nutrition labeling requirements for establishments not covered by the new law or regulations.

Proposed Requirements for Vending Machines

Vending Machines Covered

  • Vending machine operators that own or operate 20 or more vending machines would disclose calorie information for food sold from a vending machine unless certain nutrition information is visible to consumers on individual packages of food while inside the machine.
  • Operators of vending machines not covered (for example, operators with fewer than 20 vending machines) may opt-in to the Federal requirements by registering with FDA every other year.

Calorie Display

  • Calorie information would be required to be displayed clearly and prominently.
  • The term “Calories” or “Cal” would be required to be posted next to the number of calories for the food.
  • Calorie information would be posted on a sign in close proximity to the article of food, i.e., adjacent to the vending machine, but not necessarily attached to the vending machine, so long as the sign is visible at the same time as the food, its description name, price, or selection button number. In other words, the sign declaring calorie information would be in the same field of vision as the food items in the machine.