With Halloween around the corner, don’t let the rapidly approaching deadline for menu labeling regulations scare you. You may not want to think about next May, but you must! Especially if you are in the restaurant or food service industries.

Beginning May 5th, 2017, all restaurants and food service providers with 20 or more establishments under the same name or that serve the same type of food are required to list calories on menus and menu boards. You may not think this is a big deal, but in addition to printed menus, consider the number of restaurants that offer online menus on their website, apps, and 3rd party websites such as GrubHub or Yelp. This project is a bit of a doozy!

On top of the above-mentioned menu updates, you are also required to include a statement about the daily caloric intake on all of your menus. And wait, there’s more! Restaurants and food service providers will need to have nutrition information for menu items available for customers, either as a physical copy or by providing a link to a company webpage where the nutrition information is located.

Restaurants and food service providers only have a few options on who will complete the nutritional analysis and how to do so. First, they must decide whether to complete the nutritionals in-house or partner with an experienced labeling company.

To tackle this type of task in-house, you are looking at purchasing a database software needed to test the nutritionals through calculated analysis. This is an expensive option for the provider, and it only allows for the testing of certain foods, such as salads, sandwiches, and whole grains. Note: some cooking methods are not recommended for calculated analysis, such as frying, sautéing, grilling or baking. Refer to our blog post on calculated analysis vs lab analysis for more information.

If you have foods that have undergone extensive processing through baking, frying or other methods, then you will need to perform lab analysis. Lab analysis can only be outsourced, and the turnaround time is about 10 days. Almost all restaurants have foods on their menus that require a combination of both lab analysis and calculated analysis.

Yes folks, the struggle is real for restaurants and food service entities as they gather their recipes to begin delivering nutritional data for all of their food and beverage items. But please don’t fool yourself by thinking you have plenty of time to get all your menus updated before the deadline. The window for creating nutrition information for menu labeling is shrinking by the day, as nutritional analysis by database providers like Merieux Nutrisciences is in high demand.

Unsure about which analysis to choose? I bet! Don’t worry, you can reach out to a Mérieux NutriSciences food expert and get the all the information you need, including time frames involved in converting your menu labels. In the meantime, be on the lookout for my next blog post in our menu labeling series!

Meet the Author

Sophie Lauer, RD
Associate Nutrition Program Manager, Mérieux NutriSciences

Sophie Lauer is the Associate Nutrition Program Manager at Merieux 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.

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