Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 obligates chain restaurants and similar food service businesses operating in at least twenty locations to display certain information on menus and menu boards. Even if a restaurant owner does not fall into this category, it is possible to fill out a form registering oneself for the program. Many restaurant owners have invested in a digital menu and other restaurant supplies to prepare for the changes. Read on to learn the specifics of the FDA regulations.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Requirements
Not every restaurant operating in twenty or more locations must follow the new rules. The FDA program targets those establishments doing business under the same name and carrying significantly similar menu offerings. These restaurants must clearly reveal caloric information on menus and menu boards, including those stationed at drive-throughs. If food is on display, informative signage must appear next to it. Consider placing such signage next to your bakery display case now, highlighting appealing nutritional characteristics of your healthier desserts. By customer request, affected restaurants need to supply in writing other nutrition information, such as sugars, carbohydrates, calories from fat, types and amounts, of fats, cholesterol, protein, and dietary fiber.
Timetable for New FDA Regulations
The regulations are currently under review and the FDA is receiving comments from the public to take into consideration when finalizing the new rules. Once they become final – purportedly by the end of 2012 – the FDA plans to implement them approximately six months from their publication date. Nevertheless, many food service professionals have gotten a head start by beginning their displays early.
Keep up to date on these FDA regulations and make sure that you understand them and are fully in compliance. Start maintaining logs of nutrition facts for all of your dishes if you do not already do so. Remember that you will need to change your menu displays whenever the content or serving size of a dish changes. An electronic menu can be invaluable in meeting this need. You also may wish to use menu card holders near displays and on tables to facilitate updates to nutrition information. Perhaps most importantly, begin adapting menu items to give your restaurant the edge in healthfulness before you and your competitors are required to prominently showcase calorie information. A well-rounded menu with plenty of nutritional value will push you ahead of your rivals even more once the new rules go into effect.