On November 24, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration issued calorie posting requirements for restaurants and food vendors. What does it mean to you and do you have to comply?
First the good news. If you are an independent restaurant or a restaurant group that has a series of independent restaurants, then you don't have to comply. Neither do food trucks. The bad news is that the requirements do apply to restaurant chains (same concept restaurants) that have 20 or more locations.
Regular menu items must have calorie counts, but daily specials and seasonal items don’t have to. Some types of alcohol on the menu are covered, but mixed drinks at the bar get a pass.
Despite what restaurants might think, the National Restaurant Association actually supported the new requirements. “We believe that the [FDA] has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern with the proposed regulations and is providing the industry with the ability to implement the law in a way that will most benefit consumers,” the group’s president, Dawn Sweeney, said in a press release.
I Must Comply. Now what?
First, you can't hide the calories with fine print. They must use the same font size as the description or price.
You need “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary” clearly printed on the menu board or menus.
Menus and menu boards must inform anyone interested that additional written nutrition information is available upon request. This includes the standard nutrition facts panel data such as carbs, sugars, sodium, saturated fats and the like.
How Do I Calculate Calories?
There's always professional labs, which might work for large, corporate chains, but for the smaller ones, it will take some hours for an employee at the computer. They can simply type in all the ingredients at such websites as Calorie Count or MyFitnessPal. Once you add the number of serving sizes the recipe makes, it will calculate the calories per serving.
For most small or independent restaurant owners the new regulations, you can relax. The new regulations won't effect you.