Article contributed by CaterTrax
Get Ahead of the Competition and Drive Customer Satisfaction by Adding Calories to Your Menu Now
In May of 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended the compliance date for new menu labeling requirements again for an additional year to May of 2018. According to the FDA, this extension “allows for further considerations of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the final rule.” Despite the extended deadline, many affected establishments are opting to move forward with adding essential nutritional information to their online menus now.
The main driver of this ruling is the fact that more than 2/3 of adults and about 1/3 of children in the United States are overweight or obese – the primary cause of which is overconsumption of calories. Providing clear and consistent nutrition information that is easily accessible allows customers to make more informed decisions as they place online orders, whether it’s a single take-out order for themselves, a breakfast order for a morning business meeting, or a large catering order for a special event. Making calorie counts readily available builds trust in your foodservice operation and promotes healthier lifestyles among customers, thus improving our nation’s overall state of health.
The Lowdown on Upcoming Menu Labeling Requirements
Why was this law passed?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is broken up into nine titles, each of which focuses on improving different aspects of our nation’s state of health. Title IV prioritizes healthier communities and the prevention of chronic disease as this law aims to move the US healthcare system’s focus away from solely treating sick people to keeping people healthier overall.
Who will be affected?
Restaurants and similar food establishments which are part of a chain with twenty or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering just about the same standard menu items, and offering for sale restaurant-type food will be affected.*
What are the requirements?
The FDA offers a comprehensive list of requirements and details regarding the ruling on their website at FDA.gov which should be referred to as you transition into complete compliance. According to the FDA, requirements include clearly listing calorie information and a daily caloric intake statement (shown below) on menus and menu boards, if prominently displayed, for standard items. Standard menu items refer to “restaurant-type food that is routinely included on a menu or menu board or routinely offered as a self-service food or food on display.”
“2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
“Additional nutrition information available upon request.”
When is the compliance deadline? Affected establishments need to meet the requirements by May 7th, 2018 as mandated by the FDA.
How to Get Started
• Do Your Research.
The FDA’s website, FDA.gov, contains a variety of resources for affected establishments and for organizations that simply want to comply for the benefits. Their website should be your go-to resource for the information needed to ensure you are compliant with the menu labeling ruling.
• Start Counting Calories.
Calculating calorie counts and calorie ranges for all standard menu items is a major reason why we stress updating your menu early because it can be very time-consuming. Luckily, with the online resources available, and the Calorie Calculator we’ve created to help simplify this process, it doesn’t have to be.
• Enlist Resources.
This ruling impacts many establishments across the country, so you are not alone in this transition. To help our clients, CaterTrax developed TRAXTrition, which includes enhanced features and functionality of our catering management software that clearly display required and desired nutritional information on all mobile responsive menus. TRAXTrition is available for both new and existing clients, and we encourage you to reach out to us early if you are looking for our assistance with your transition into compliance.
• Envision the Opportunity!
As you know, updating your menu is a big task, but with this FDA mandate forcing your hand, this is the perfect opportunity to update the look and feel of your menu to meet market and consumer demand. CaterTrax offers a new website theme that bundles with the functionality of TRAXTrition to support your transition to a mobile-responsive, online ordering website. The newly offered theme not only enhances the front-end, customer experience but also drives business forward, proving the investment to be effective and impactful.
To learn more about making your menu compliant with TRAXTrition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: CaterTrax is not advising nor is responsible for determining whether or not partners or clients (contracted or self-operated) must adhere to the statute nor their basis for its nutrient content declarations. Further, partners and clients are responsible for determining their own course of action regarding obedience to the statute and nutrient content declarations.
**Clients are responsible for providing all caloric values and nutritional information they want to be displayed on their menu.
***Some restrictions may apply.