FDA Menu Calorie Count Law: What You Need to Know

An industry guide to the FDA Menu Calorie Count Law

FDA Menu Calorie Count Law: What You Need to Know

The menu labeling law, which came in to affect in mid-2018 as a provision of the affordable care act, states that all food establishments with 20 locations or more are now required to list the calorie information next to each menu item on their menu boards.

This new rule was set in place as a call to action in response to the obesity epidemic plaguing Americans throughout the United States. With very clearly labeled calorie information available on the menu boards of popular eateries, consumers are afforded the opportunity to choose lower calorie options that will, in turn, improve their health in the long run. 

Which Food Establishments are Included Under FDA Requirements?

As previously mentioned, per the new rule set in effect by the Food and Drug Administration, eateries with 20 locations or more are required to comply. But this does not only apply to fast food and traditional sit down restaurants. Pulled directly from the FDA website, the list below includes all food establishments that are under the new menu calorie count ruling:

  • Chain restaurants
  • Chain coffee shops
  • Bakeries
  • Ice cream shops
  • Self-service food locations, such as buffets and salad bars
  • Movie theaters
  • Amusement parks
  • Grocery/convenience stores

Basics of  Menu Labeling for FDA Compliance

Under the new menu labeling requirements, food establishments that meet the aforementioned criteria must list the calorie information of menu items directly next to the item’s listing on the menu board

According to the FDA in regards to the menu calorie count law, calorie count must be clearly listed next to each menu item.


As you can see, each listed item has the number of calories the menu item contains clearly displayed next to the item itself. Eateries that fit the bill must also have additional nutrition information available for customers upon request. 

According to the FDA: 

The following written nutrition information is required to be available to consumers upon their request: total calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein. The statement regarding the availability of the additional written nutrition information must be posted prominently and in a clear and conspicuous manner.”

 The only exceptions to this particular rule (also pulled directly from the FDA website) are: 

  • Foods sold at deli counters and typically intended for further preparation
  • Foods purchased in bulk in grocery stores, such as loaves of bread from the bakery section
  • Bottles of liquor displayed behind a bar
  • Food in transportation vehicles, such as food trucks, airplanes, and trains
  • Food on menus in elementary, middle, and high schools that are part of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program
  • Restaurants and other establishments that are not part of a chain of 20 or more


Does this new FDA menu labeling law apply to your food establishment? MenuCalc is an intelligent cloud-based nutrition analysis software created specifically for the food industry and capable of handling of of your menu labeling needs, including calorie counts and nutrition information. Click here for more information. 

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