Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finalizing requirements for providing certain nutrition information for standard menu items in certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments, to implement the menu labeling provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Affordable Care Act). The Affordable Care Act, in part, amended the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), among other things, to require restaurants and similar retail food establishments (R/SRFE) 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, to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items, including food on display and self-service food. Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, restaurants and similar retail food establishments not otherwise covered by the law may elect to become subject to the Federal requirements by registering every other year with the FDA. The analysis of benefits and costs included in this document is the basis for the summary analysis included in the Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments final rule [FDA-2011-F-0172].
- Consumers will benefit from having nutrition information displayed, resulting in healthier decisions.
- 6% of the obese population will reduce energy intake by at least 100 calories per week.
- Customers consume fewer calories when menus display information about calories.
- The act will establish National Standards for all food service establishments to follow.
- The Cost to the foodservice industry is crippling:
- Estimated $1 Billion the first year
- Annual recurring cost of $45 million
- This cost has no additional, quantifiable benefit; causing significant burden to an industry that operates on a profit margin that averages 1%
- Not every food service establishment receives the majority of orders “in-house”
- Making “in-house” menu boards obsolete
- Food service establishments such as pizza parlors, food markets and personalized ordering establishments have too many varieties to list every item on a menu board.
Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015:
This bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise the nutritional information that restaurants and retail food establishments must disclose. The nutrient content disclosure statement on the menu or menu board must include 1 of the following:
- The number of calories contained in the whole menu item.
- The number of servings and number of calories per serving.
- The number of calories per common unit of the item, such as for a multi-serving item that is typically divided before presentation to the consumer.
Establishments with self-serve food may comply with the requirements for restaurants or place signs with nutritional information adjacent to each food item.
An establishment’s nutrient content disclosures have a “reasonable basis” if they are within acceptable allowances for variation, including variations in serving size or ingredients and inadvertent human error in formulation.
Establishments with standard menu items that come in different flavors, varieties, or combinations, that are listed as a single menu item can determine and disclose nutritional information using specified methods or methods allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Regulations pursuant to this Act or the clause amended by this Act cannot take effect earlier than two years after final regulations are promulgated pursuant to this Act.
Nutritional information disclosure requirements apply to establishments that derive more than 50% of their total revenue from the sale of food.
The Breakdown of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act:
- Food service establishments that receive the majority of their orders off-premise will have the option to list nutritional content online rather than on a physical in-house menu board.
- Food service establishments with multiple choices or extensive selections will have the option to include ranges, averages, individual labeling of flavors/components, or labeling of one preset standard build.
- Small business owners, and their staff, will be protected from lawsuits and criminal action due to inadvertent human error.
- It allows food service establishments to hide the amount of calories in food on websites.
- It will compromise National Menu Standards set by the FDA & ACA.
- It will mislead calorie information supply to consumers with various ranges, averages, and serving sizes.
Opposing parties such as the National Restaurant Association (NRA) argue, H.R. 2017 contains numerous provisions that both decrease consumer access to nutritional information and increase the likelihood of inconsistent or confusing menu labels. Current law requires that the number of calories contained in the standard menu item, as usually prepared and offered for sale, to be displayed. The bill as amended would change this requirement to allow restaurants and retail food establishments to choose how the calorie information is displayed — either in the whole standard menu item, or the number of servings as determined by the establishment and number of calories per serving, or the number of calories per the common unit.
On February 12th, 2016 Republican Conference Chairman, Cathy McMorris Rodger, presented the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act to the US House of Representatives. It was approved the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act with strong bipartisan support. (266 in favor, 144 opposed and 1 abstention) The next step for this act is a trip to the US Senate office. If approved by the Senate it will continue to the President Obama who has already stated his opposition to the “so-called Common Sense” Nutrition Disclosure Act.
Only time will determine what lies ahead for the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. Activist from both sides are determined to make sure their views are heard, taking social media by storm, and arranging protest at Government buildings. In fact the only thing growing faster than the petitions is the anticipation of the Food Service Industry.
Clark Service Group/C-store would like to know what you think. Should The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act become a law? Or, Will it just add more confusion for customers?
By: Becky Simmons
Edited by: Marcie Byrd