UPDATE: This article, originally published in May of this year, stated the deadline for compliance was December 1, 2015. The FDA announced last week that it is extending the deadline by one year, so restaurants and other establishments now have until December 1, 2016 to comply. The article has been updated to reflect this change.

Although menu labeling became law as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration did not finalize rules until November of last year. The idea driving this new health conscious rule is the finding that nearly one third of the average American’s calorie intake is consumed outside the home.

The policy update requires calorie counts to be readily available on menus and menu boards at chain restaurants, amusement parks, movie theatres and even grocers with prepared foods. Almost any food outlet with 20 or more stores will need to comply by December 1st 2016, and that has many in the food industry actively planning to make the adjustment.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the final rules.

  • Flexibility for multi-serving dishes such as pizza can be labeled by the slice or single serving portion.

  • Alcoholic beverages featured on the main menus will need calories listed. However, drinks ordered at the bar, wine lists and most bottles and cans of alcohol won’t have to individually list calories.

  • To put the calorie information in context, the following statement must be included on menu boards and menus. “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

  • Upon consumer request, additional written information must be available about total calories, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fibers, sugars and protein.

  • If you have vending machines in your establishment and own 20 or more of them, you are required to disclose calorie information for the food sold in these machines.

All the details can be overwhelming, but this is an instance where your point-of- purchase materials critically come into play. Flyers, menu boards, magnets, brochures, and tear off pads are just a few of the vehicles that will take care of the calorie messaging you’ll need. Call BrandPOP for a consultation on how we can help your organization comply with the new FDA rules with your in-store materials.

Lisa Herrera Pilcher
Director of Sales & Marketing at BrandPOP
Lisa Herrera Pilcher is the Business Development Consultant at BrandPOP. She uses her extensive background in print and client service to help build marketing strategy using BrandPOP's print collateral programs.