FDA Regulations About Nutritional Information and Restaurant Signage

The deadline for compliance was May 7, 2018. What’s on your restaurant’s menu board?

For fast food, fast casual, or most any restaurant, digital signage is one of the best and easiest ways to display your menu and promote featured items and specials. From digital menu boards and displays to customized video content, there are many options that can help create a better customer experience and increase sales.

But that’s not all they can do. A key benefit of digital is that it can easily keep your restaurant compliant with federal law.

The FDA has new regulations regarding restaurant signage … are you compliant?

There are regulations about what needs to be displayed on signage, including digital screens. In 2010, the FDA added new regulations regarding nutritional information that must be displayed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The deadline to become compliant with the new rules was May 7th of this year. Restaurants who fall under the new rules yet fail to fulfill them could face penalties.

Who needs to comply with the FDA regulations?

Adding nutritional information to menu boards and other types of digital screens is required only in certain categories of eating establishments. According to the FDA, “The menu labeling requirement applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations … They must be doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.”

These establishments may include:

  • Fast food or quick service restaurants
  • Table service restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Cafeterias
  • Coffee shops
  • Delicatessens
  • Food service facilities inside entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, amusement parks, or bowling alleys
  • Take-out, drive-through, or delivery establishments
  • Grocery stores selling ready-to-eat, self-service food for individual consumption, such as a salad bar, hot entrees, hot soups, sub sandwiches, etc.
  • Retail confectioner stores (ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies, baked goods, etc.)

The rules apply to foods that are standard menu items only. They do not apply to things like condiments, daily specials, temporary items, custom orders, food that is part of a market test, and some items that are sold for less than 60 days per year.

What is the purpose of the new regulations?

The new regulations are designed to give customers a better idea of the calories and other nutritional information that could affect their health. Their purpose is to help combat the ongoing problem of obesity in the U.S.

Obesity has been linked to a number of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Due to our busy schedules, about one-third of our calories come from food prepared outside the home, including restaurants and food retailers.

Given these statistics, plus the soaring cost of healthcare, it’s probably not surprising that the government is stepping in with measures to combat obesity.

What are the new FDA regulations regarding menu boards?

Here is an overview of the main regulations that should have been met by May 7th:

  • Calories for standard menu items must be shown on all digital displays.
  • Calories for standard menu items that are self-service or on display must be shown on signs adjacent to the food for sale.
  • Menu boards must include a succinct statement at the bottom with suggested daily caloric intake. (2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.)
  • Complete printed nutritional information must also be available, including total calories, total fat (saturated; trans-fat), cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, and protein.
  • Menu boards must also include a statement letting customers know that printed nutritional information is available (statement of availability).

There are even regulations regarding the size and color of the type you should use, as well as the background color.

You can read the complete regulations here.

For updated information, rules and resources, click here.

Are you fully compliant with the new FDA regulations? If not, the time to act is now. The good news is that digital signage makes it easier to do the necessary changes. One system connects all of your screens, so you can do updates as needed.

If you still need to become compliant – or you want to develop a digital signage strategy for your restaurant or chain of establishments – Zero-In can help. We specialize in providing digital solutions for restaurants of all types and sizes, from menu boards and digital displays to dynamic video walls. Get in touch with us at 888-260-7291.