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FDA Announces Rules for Menu & Vending Machine Nutrition Labeling

November 25, 2014—Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires certain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards.

Other nutrient information—total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein—would have to be made available in writing upon request.

In addition, menus and menu boards are required to include a statement about the availability of such additional nutrient information along with a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. The Act also requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie content for certain items.

More than two thirds of adults and about a third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Overconsumption of calories is one of the primary risk factors for overweight and obesity. About half of consumers’ annual food dollars are spent on, and a third of total calories come from, foods prepared outside the home, including foods from restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Many people do not know, or underestimate, the calorie and nutrient content of these foods. To help make nutrition information for these foods available to consumers in a direct, accessible, and consistent manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices, section 4205 of the ACA requires that calorie and other nutrition information be provided to consumers in 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 (chain retail food establishment). Section 4205 of the ACA also provides that a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is not a chain retail food establishment may elect to be subject to section 4205’s nutrition labeling requirements by registering every other year with FDA.