FDA Restaurant Regulations for Menu Labeling: FAQ’s

FDA restaurant regulations

Per FDA restaurant regulations, food businesses with 20 + locations must provide calorie counts for all listed menu items.

FDA Restaurant Regulations for Menu Labeling: FAQ’s

As of May 2018, restaurants or food businesses with 20+ locations have been required by law to provide calorie counts on their menus as well as additional nutrition information on menu items when requested. This regulation was housed under the affordable care act and the final rule was officially released in 2014 with a compliance date of May 2018. Below is a list of frequently asked questions to ensure you are in compliance with this FDA regulation. 

Coffee shops, as seen here are one of the many included businesses to provide calorie counts on their menus according to FDA restaurant regulations.

FAQ’s Regarding FDA Restaurant Requirements

Who does this rule apply to? 

Businesses in the food industry with 20+ locations operating under the same name.

Business types include but aren’t limited to:

  • Dine in Restaurants 
  • Coffee shops
  • Fast food restaurants 
  • Vending Machines
  • Convenience stores
  • Cafeterias 

What food businesses are exempt? 

  • Food businesses under 20 locations
  • Food trucks 
  • Public school cafeterias governed by FDA rulings 

Food trucks, such as seen above, are one of the few food businesses that are exempt from the FDA restaurant regulations for menu-labeling.


What are the requirements for menus and menu boards? 


Under this new rule, menu items listed on menu boards as well as individual menus must include calorie counts as well as other nutritional information.


The additional written nutrition information that must be available to customers upon their request must include:


  • Total calories (cal) 
  • Total fat (g)
  • Saturated fat (g) 
  • Trans fat (g)
  • Cholesterol (mg) 
  • Sodium (mg) 
  • Tota lcarbohydrate(g)
  • Dietary fiber (g) 
  • Sugars (g)
  • Protein (g


What menu types are included in this new FDA menu labeling law?


  •  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus
  •  Specialty menus (e.g., drink, dessert, and catering menus) 
  • Children’s menus
  • Menu boards at a drive through
  • Electronic menus and menu boards 
  • Online menus if the customer can order online or by phone


What menu items fall under this ruling? 


  • Standard menu items
  • Combination meals
  • Variable menu items
  • Food on display in a refrigerated area or shelf
  • Self-service food and beverages


Are there any food items that are exempt from the menu labeling regulation?


Yes, menu items exempt from this ruling include: 


  • Daily specials 
  • Made to order items 
  • Custom orders
  • Daily specials
  • Foods that are part of a market test 
  • Temporary menu items
  • Condiments 
  • Foods that aren’t on the menu
  • Foods not on display
  • Food not listed on the menu board


Does this labeling requirement apply to marketing material? 


No. Per the FDA, materials used “to entice” a customer to enter into or order from a food establishment does contain enough information to enforce the menu labeling law. 


What platforms are FDA approved for nutritional analysis of my food items for accurate menu labeling? 


  • Nutrient databases 
  • Laboratory analysis 
  • Nutrition labels
  • Cookbooks
  • Ingredient nutrient calculations


Final Note


Although there are multiple avenues through which to complete your nutritional analysis, upon request, the FDA may require a certification from the business you have used to reach compliance through nutrition analysis. This is to ensure that the nutrition information provided is reliable. 


A statement by the responsible party must be signed and dated upon completion of nutritional analysis and provided to the FDA if called upon. 


If your restaurant menu is in need of analysis for accurate nutritional information and labeling of your menu items, MenuCalc is an industry-leading FDA-approved nutrition analysis software created specifically for this purpose. Contact us for all of your menu-labeling needs by visiting www.menucalc.com.

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