What’s New on Restaurant Menus

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on March 7, 2019 · 0 comments

If you have eaten out recently you may have noticed that more and more restaurants are now posting calories on menus. Beginning in May 2018, the FDA set in place a policy requiring restaurants with more than 20 locations to clearly list the calorie count of food items. This policy change hopes to encourage consumers to make more informed food selections and to encourage restaurants and other food retailers to offer more healthy options.

You will see these changes happen on menus and menu boards at:

Meals from chain sit-down restaurants

Foods purchased at drive-through windows

Take-out food, such as pizza 

Foods, such as made-to-order sandwiches at chain supermarkets or delicatessens

Foods you serve yourself from a salad or hot food bar at a restaurant or supermarkets

Chain bakery or coffee shops

Popcorn purchased at a movie theater or amusement park

Ice cream, milk shake or sundae from a chain ice cream stop

Certain vending machine options will also have to carry calorie labeling if they can be viewed before purchase, however, there are exceptions to this ruling.

When menu items are available with options, such as side items with an entrée or a sandwich that can be ordered with either chips or a side salad the calorie amount will be shown as a range (250 – 425 calories). In addition to calorie information, restaurants and food stores are required to provide written nutrition information for other nutrients that you can request.

Places where calorie information will not be required to be posted:

            Any store selling food with less than 20 locations.

            Foods bought in bulk supermarkets, such as loaves of bread from the bakery

            Liquor displayed behind a bar

            Food trucks, airplane and train meals and snacks

            School meals that fall under the National School Lunch Program

Time will tell who uses these new calorie posting requirements and if the information will change eating behavior or prompt stores to offer healthier menu options. 

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