Calorie Information in Restaurants and Vending Machines

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized rules that will require calorie information to be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments and vending machines. The FDA said, “Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. These final rules will give consumers more information when they are dining out and help them lead healthier lives.” The menu labeling rule will apply to restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations; doing business under the same name; and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. Operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines will have to provide calorie information for food sold from vending machines. The FDA gave examples of “restaurant-type” foods that would be covered:

  • Food for immediate consumption at a sit-down or quick service restaurant;
  • Food purchased at a drive-through establishment;
  • Take-out and delivery pizza;
  • Hot pizza at grocery and convenience stores that is ready to eat;
  • Pizza slice from a movie theater;
  • Hot buffet food, hot soup at a soup bar, and food from a salad bar;
  • Foods ordered from a menu/menu board at a grocery store intended for individual consumption (e.g., soups, sandwiches, and salads); and
  • Self-service foods and foods on display intended for individual consumption (e.g., sandwiches, wraps, and paninis at a deli counter; salads plated by the consumer at a salad bar; cookies from a mall cookie counter; bagels, donuts, rolls offered for individual sale).

Foods not considered “restaurant-type” foods include:

  • Certain foods bought from bulk bins or cases (e.g., dried fruit, nuts) in grocery stores;
  • Foods to be eaten over several eating occasions or stored for later use (e.g., loaves of bread, bags or boxes of dinner rolls, whole cakes, and bags or boxes of candy or cookies);
  • Foods usually further prepared before consuming (e.g., deli meats and cheeses); and
  • Foods sold by weight that are not self-serve and are not intended solely for individual consumption (e.g., deli salads sold by unit of weight such as potato salad, chicken salad), either pre-packed or packed upon consumer request.
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