Calorie Labeling on Restaurant Menus
What You Need To Know
Calorie labeling on restaurant menus and vending machines can help you make informed and healthful decisions about meals and snacks.
In today’s busy world, Americans are eating and drinking about one-third of their calories away from home. Although consumers can find calories and other nutrition information on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and beverages they buy in stores, this type of labeling is generally not available in restaurants or visible on food from vending machines.
That’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) new regulations requiring calorie information on restaurant menus and menu boards and on vending machines will be especially helpful for consumers.
What You’ll See
Some states, localities, and large restaurant chains were already doing their own forms of menu labeling, but this information was not consistent across the areas where it was implemented.
Calorie information will now be required on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants (and other places selling restaurant-type food) and on certain vending machines. This new calorie labeling will be consistent nationwide and will provide easy-to-understand nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner.
Some establishments are already voluntarily posting nutrition information, but restaurants and similar retail food establishments covered by the menu labeling final rule have until May 7, 2018, to comply with the rule’s requirements. In most cases, you’ll also see calorie labeling for packaged foods sold in vending machines by December 1, 2016. However, there are certain food products sold from glass-front vending machines that may not have calorie labeling until July 26, 2018.
Where You’ll Find It
Calorie labeling is required for restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations.
For standard menu items, calories will be listed clearly and prominently on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the food or beverage. For self-service foods, such as served from buffets and salad bars, calories will be shown on signs that are near the foods. Calories are not required to be listed for condiments, daily specials, custom orders, or temporary/seasonal menu items.
On Vending Machines:
Calorie labeling is required for vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines.
Calories will be shown on a sign (such as on a small placard, sticker, or poster) or on electronic or digital displays near the food item or selection button on vending machines and “bulk” vending machines (for example, gumball machines and mixed nut machines), unless calories are already visible on the actual food packages before purchase.