Menu Labeling for nutritional information by menutrinfoAlthough the final details of menu labeling have not been officially released, there are now two versions of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 circulating through Congress that would amend the menu-labeling guidelines. The first version, HR 2017, of the act was introduced to the House on April 23, 2015 and the more recent version of the bill, S. 2217, was introduced to the Senate on October 29, 2015. These companion bills could both result in the alteration of key points in the menu-labeling regulations. Should H.R. 2017 pass in the Senate, here are some changes that will occur:
1. Covered establishments will have more options for calorie declarations on menus:

  1. Total calories for the entire standard build of a menu item
  2. Number of servings and number of calories per serving (i.e. square-cut pizza: serves 10, 250 calories per serving)
  3. Number of calories per common unit (i.e. triangular-sliced pizza: 250 calories per slice)

2.  Establishments where the majority of orders are placed outside of the building, such as online or by telephone, have the option to post calories via “remote-access menus” (i.e. online) and leave them off their in-store menu boards
3.  Allowing different nutritional values for standard menu items as a result of variation in serving size, ingredients or human error to be included in the definition of “reasonable basis”
4. Menu items sold as combinations or varieties will be allowed to be labeled in the following manner:

  1. Calorie declarations can be listed in one of the three formats discussed above
  2. Covered establishments would have the option to declare calories as ranges, averages, or by individual components comprising the standard build or by listing calories individually for each flavor
  3. Allowing additional options to be classified “reasonable basis” in determining the nutrition content of standard menu items

5.  Delay the enactment of any other final regulations by two years after the enactment of HR 2017
6.  Elimination of signed statements of compliance (certifications)
7.  Removing advertisements, packaging and similar publications from being classified as menus or menu boards, therefore exempting them as covered materials
8.  Redefine restaurant or similar retail food establishment as one which earns more than 50% of revenue from food sales, therefore removing establishments such as movie theaters or amusement parks from qualifying as a covered establishment
9.  Permit a 90-day grace period to correct violations and eliminate corrective action if violations are remedied within this time period
10.  Remove liability of civil action in court other than such action brought by the United States or an individual state
Should S. 2217 pass, the key highlights from above would also pass as they are included in this bill. One key difference would be the allowance of serving sizes to be determined by the restaurant or similar retail establishment. Aside from this addition to the bill, the same key points from above remain true in this document. The Senate bill does not include any exemptions of covered establishments regarding the source of revenue.
If both versions are to pass, one in the House and the other in the Senate, a conference committee will form to determine the verbiage of the final bill. We’ll keep a close eye on the progress of these documents and keep you up-to-date. Although there is a potential for labeling regulations to alter, we encourage continued progress with menu labeling as customers demand more knowledge in the foodservice industry. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.