What Is Menu Labeling?

Menu Labeling Calories for Restaurants

There is a lot of confusion about menu labeling and compliance. This is the first of a series of blog posts to help clear up the confusion! Here you’ll learn about menu labeling, requirements, and exclusions. Other topics to come include how to implement menu labeling, benefits of menu labeling, how to overcome negative perspectives, and what small-to-mid sizes restaurants can do to increase customers through menu labeling!

What Is Menu Labeling?

Menu labeling is the disclosure of nutritional content of a menu item. The nutrition information must be calculated using nutrition analysis. Consumers can use this nutrition information to make informed choices when dining at restaurants, “similar retail food establishments” (SRFEs), and vending machines. Menu labeling is not required for all restaurants; however, restaurants of all sizes are seeing an increase in demand. Especially niche restaurants who focus on local sourcing, organic, vegetarian and vegan!

Who’s Required to have Menu Labeling?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in, 2010, includes a provision that creates a national, uniform nutrition-disclosure standard for foodservice establishments.

This means that chain restaurants, SRFEs, and vending machine operators with 20 or more locations to provide nutritional information for all menu or food items.  Buffets, salad bars and other self-service items are also included and will be required to provide caloric information.

What’s Required for Menu Labeling?

  • List calories on menus, menu boards and drive-thru boards In addition
  • Display a succinct statement regarding calorie intake must be displayed such as:  “A 2,000 calorie diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual calorie needs may vary”
  • Provide additional nutrition information in writing upon request (i.e., a brochure) including: total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein
  • A statement that this information is available, such as “Additional nutrition information available upon request.”


Menu labeling does not apply to all menu items. Exclusions include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Market test items – items that are on the menu as part of a market test for less than 90 consecutive days per location
  • Temporary items – items on the menu for less than 60 days per calendar year
  • Condiments and general use items
  • Custom orders

Now that you know about menu labeling and it’s requirements, learn 3 ways to implement menu labeling into your restaurant.


Evaluate the Plate
Dallas, TX