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Menu Labeling

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More information to make healthy choices in restaurants

A healthy diet can reduce the risk of major chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers and many Minnesotans are trying to improve their health by making healthy choices.

Beginning in 2012, health reform helps us make better decisions by requiring the chain restaurants and foods sold in vending machines to post calorie and other nutrition information. Adding nutritional information to chain restaurant menus gives customers more of the information they need to make the healthy choice. 

Will I see the new labeling everywhere I eat out or buy takeout food?

No. The proposed rules apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are: (1) part of a chain with 20 or more locations, (2) doing business under the same name, and (3) offering for sale substantially the same menu items in their different locations. If a restaurant or similar retail food establishment does not meet these criteria (for example, is part of a chain with fewer than 20 locations), it can voluntarily register and be covered under the federal requirements. Under this proposed regulation, movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to these proposed regulations.

Will calorie information be posted for food sold in vending machines?

Vending machine operators that own or operate 20 or more machines would be required to post calorie information for food sold in vending machines unless nutrition information for the food is visible while inside the machine.

When will I see the new nutrition labeling?

Some establishments are already posting nutrition information, but the FDA is scheduled to issue the final rule in November 2012 with the rules becoming effective six months later.

Where does the information have to be posted?

Calories would be required on menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards, and on signs next to foods on display. For vending machines, FDA is proposing that calories be declared in close proximity to the food.

How will I know if the number of calories posted for a menu item is high or low?

FDA is proposing that 2,000 calories be used as a reference point—the same calorie amount used on the Nutrition Facts panel that appears on packaged foods. FDA is also proposing that this statement include a sentence informing consumers that individual calorie needs vary.