It has been a few months since the menu labeling law requiring chain restaurants of 20 or more locations to provide calorie and nutrition information came into effect, and diners are getting used to having this information available. Making informed choices about what to order at a restaurant, cafe, or grocery store has never been easier for consumers.
With this new industry standard, more and more small restaurants that aren’t required to provide calorie or nutrition information are climbing on board and offering their diners this same information voluntarily. So, today, let’s consider affordable, quick, and easy recipe analysis for restaurants so your establishment can obtain calorie and nutrition information with minimal effort.
Opting into Menu Labeling
Although the menu labeling law is still its early days, we already know how important it is to the American public. Not only is the presence of calorie and nutrition information keeping restaurants accountable by encouraging them to make their menus healthier, but it is also changing the way people order. In fact, a recent review showed that having access to calorie information means that diners will reduce their calorie intake by an average of 50 calories per meal. In a country where obesity is an epidemic, these early results are significant.
For many small restaurants, these promising findings are enough to make them want to do their part to help the public make better decisions about what they eat. Even if they aren’t legally required to do so, some think of it as a social responsibility. Others, of course, focus more on the ways that providing calorie and nutrition info will boost business and attract more customers. Whatever your motivation, if you want to get started with providing calorie counts and nutrition information at your restaurant, the first step is to opt in with the FDA.
Opting into the menu labeling law simply means you need to fill out a voluntary registration form and submit it to the FDA via mail or email. If you own more than one restaurant and you want to opt-in for all of them, the form allows you to do so, as long as an authorized official of the restaurants submits it. Once you’ve submitted this form, you will be responsible for adhering to the same menu labeling rules and regulations as other restaurants.
Easy Recipe Analysis for Restaurants
Now that you’ve submitted your opt-in form, it’s time to start analyzing your recipes. For establishments with smaller budgets, using online nutrition analysis software is the way to go. Compared to food lab analysis, which costs as much as $700 per analysis, or hiring an independent consultant, which ends up being about $400 per recipe, online nutrition analysis software allows you to analyze your entire menu for as little as $250 a month.
In addition to being incredibly affordable, online software is easy to use. Once you’ve created your password-protected account, you can sign in and get started with the analysis. Simply input your recipe and serving size using a USDA-compiled ingredient database, then sit back and watch as your highly accurate calorie and nutrition information instantly generates.
Next, you can review allergen information and any nutrient content claims your menu item qualifies for (such as “low-fat” or “low-sodium”). And, if you have several recipes that are similar with small variations, you can use our duplicate function to make a copy of the base recipe to tweak so you don’t have to re-enter the ingredients all over again. The best part is you can analyze a recipe in less than five minutes, which means you can have your entire food menu and beverage menu finished in no time.
While opting into the menu labeling law ultimately comes from a place of wanting to help Americans make informed decisions about what they eat, you also want to make sure that complying to the rules and regulations doesn’t drain your restaurant’s most precious resources—time and money. Luckily, with online software that offers easy recipe analysis for restaurants, it’s completely possible to achieve both.
MenuCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software that offers easy recipe analysis for restaurants of all sizes—from large chains to mom and pop shops. Try our free 15-day trial or contact us to get started today.