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US FDA Finalizes Menu and Vending Machine Labeling Rules

On 25 November 2014 the US FDA announced that the final rules for the “Nutritional Labeling of Standard Menu in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments”[1] and “Calories labeling of Articles of food in Vending Machines”[2] were published on 1 December 2014.

These finalize the Menu Labeling Provisions of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 also known as the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 signed into law on 23 March 2010.[3] Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act became effective 23 March 2010 however some provisions required the FDA to issue final rules before they could have been implemented. Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act amends Section 403 of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

These final rules require restaurants, similar retail food including those in movie theaters and amusement parks establishments with 20 or more locations nationwide, doing business under the same and offering for sale substantially the same menu items, to provide calorie information for standard menu items by the name or price of the item. “Seasonal menu items offered for sale as temporary menu items, daily specials and condiments for general use typically available on a counter or table are exempt from the labeling requirements.”[4] Certain alcoholic beverages are now included in this rule to list calorie content. Additionally mixed dish items, such as pizza will now be allowed more flexibility in declaring calorie content, so for this item calories per slice can be declared instead of the whole pie. US FDA did clarify that food purchased from a retail establishment that is typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consumption is not covered under this rule.

Menu and menu boards are to include the statement “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary”.[5] Upon consumer request these companies are to provide written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and proteins. These firms have one year to comply with these rules.

Additionally vending machine operators that own 20 or more machines are to disclose calories for foods, subject to certain exception. Vending operators will have 2 years to comply with this rule.

While this law is more complicated, covers more operations and foods; similar laws have been passed in California (effective 1 January 2011), Davidson County, Tennessee (effective 31 March 2010), King County, Washington (effective 31 December 2008), Massachusetts (effective 1 November 2010), New York City (effective 5 May 2008), Oregon (effective 1 January 2011) and Philadelphia (effective 1 January 2010).[6]

SGS laboratories perform nutritional analysis utilizing standardized methodology for determining the macro nutrients, vitamins and minerals concentrations in a wide variety of food products.   

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulatory news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions including analytical testing, audits, certifications, inspections and technical support. We continually invest in our world class testing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology to help you reduce risks, and improve food safety and quality. For further information please visit our website http://www.sgs.com/en/Agriculture-Food/Food.aspx.

Email SGS Hong Kong Ltd. at mktg.hk@sgs.com for enquiries or visit http://www.sgsgroup.com.hk/.


[1] US FDA Nutritional Labeling

[2] US FDA Calories labeling

[3] Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of  2010

[4] FDA News Events Seasonal menu items

[5] FDA News Events

[6] Center for Science in the Public Interest – Comparison of Menu Labeling Policies 

Content provided by SGS Hong Kong Limited
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