April 1, 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released a guidance document, Temporary Policy Regarding Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Chain Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide temporary flexibility to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments currently required to provide nutrition information, including calories, on menus and menu boards.
FDA regulations require that restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items are required to provide nutrition information (including calorie declarations) for standard menu items on menus and menu boards.
However, the FDA is aware that some of these covered establishments are temporarily changing business practices as a result of the pandemic—for example, some dine-in operations are switching to takeout only, which may require changes in online ordering portals and printed menus. Because calorie information is required to be declared for standard menu items when a consumer makes a selection, establishments may have difficulty providing this information during a rapid transition to a takeout business practice. Additionally, some of these establishments may be experiencing temporary disruptions in the food supply chain, which may lead to different menus or substitutions that could affect the accuracy of the nutrition information. To provide flexibility to these chains covered by menu labeling requirements, FDA will not object if establishments do not meet menu labeling requirements during this public health emergency.
This policy change will remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency.