Feeling overwhelmed by new federal menu labeling laws? You’re not alone. Finding a 3rd party partner to work with for compliance can be stressful, but choosing the right partner will allow you to spend your time running your business while still meeting regulation deadlines.
When looking for a team of experts to utilize for your required FDA menu labeling updates, consider these five key attributes:
When choosing a menu labeling partner, evaluate whether they understand the restaurant menu labeling process, know the ABC’s of ever changing regulations and demonstrate an apt knowledge of the needed database software.Everything from the cooking method to sub-recipes needs to be reviewed in order to produce precise nutrition information, so find a partner whose positive customer reputation includes strong communication skills. Because the nutrition database software can be difficult to maneuver, working with an an experienced menu labeling team will ensure a seamless process and alleviate any added stress.
2. Reliable Software
Software used for restaurant menu labeling needs to be verified as following the FDA regulations for rounding rules. While the FDA will not specifically recommend a database software by name, they have approved of the overall nutrition analysis by database process. Nutrition analysis by database, otherwise referred to as calculated analysis, uses a combination of USDA Standard Reference database, recipes and additional supplier-specific data to calculate the nutrition information of a menu item. When choosing a database software, make sure it includes the USDA database (for example, ESHA’s Genesis R&D).
3. Accredited Laboratory
There are always one or two food and beverage items that will need to have nutritional information completed by lab analysis. For lab analysis, a prepared food product must be sent into the lab for chemical analysis to determine the nutritional content. The need to use lab analysis for certain food products is due either to the cooking method used or complexity level of the dish. If you choose a trusted partner to work with, they will recommend which of your menu items can be submitted by calculated analysis and which must be submitted for lab analysis. Working with an ISO 17025 accredited lab is crucial, so check the credentials of your potential vendors to save yourself time and money in the future.
4. Total Solutions
For the restaurant and food service industries, menu labeling is only a fragment of an effective safety and quality program. From nutrition labeling to GMO testing, finding a trusted partner who can offer a myriad of solutions for your food safety program will allow your company to redirect its focus to next year’s business goals. As consumers continually increase their focus on understanding the health and safety of the foods they eat, implementing a comprehensive safety and quality program will give you an advantage in the long-run.
Not sure which items on your menu need calculated analysis? Contact us today for a free menu review! Mérieux NutriSciences’ experienced menu labeling team offers over 20 years of working with the food service industry! With reliable software and core nutrition accredited laboratories in the US and Canada, we step in and take the pain out of menu labeling. After completing a menu review, our restaurant menu labeling team will work with you to gather your recipes and specification sheets to complete the nutrition information for all of of your menu items. The process can be time consuming because of all the materials needed for calculated analysis, so don’t wait.
Meet the Author
Sophie Lauer, RD
Associate Nutrition Program Manager, Mérieux NutriSciences
Sophie Lauer is the Associate Nutrition Program Manager at Mérieux NutriSciences. She received her Bachelor of Sciences in Applied Health Science, Dietetics from Indiana University. Sophie received her MBA from Dominican University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking for friends and family as well as playing with her goldendoodle.