Preparing for the FDA Menu Labeling Requirement: Part One of Five

WAND Digital Menu BoardsGiven our love of menu boards and the impact the FDA ruling has on them, I thought it prudent to start a blog series sharing some advice on how to best prepare. Today’s post is my first of five on this topic. Here are some key facts on the new FDA menu labeling requirement and what they mean for you.

Who. Restaurants with 20+ locations with the same name offering virtually the same menu.
What it means for you: If you’re a QSR/Fast Casual restaurant I’m guessing you fall into this category so the mandate will apply to you. If you’re a chain with less than 20 locations this mandate doesn’t technically apply to you, but if you’re planning to grow your business you definitely want to follow these requirements as you create new menus.

What. Calorie counts on menus (obviously).
What it means for you: You’ll need to label all the major, permanent items on your menus, with a menu (as defined by the FDA) as being any written item that customers will use to make their food selection. The exception to this rule is any seasonal item that is offered for 60 days or less.

When. December 1, 2016. That’s the date the FDA has decreed this mandate to be effective.
What it means for you: You’ll need a formal plan in place ASAP (if you don’t have one already). I recommend designating someone in your organization as the champion of this cause to ensure all requirements are met. The most likely person is someone on your quality control team.

Where. Anywhere your menu is displayed.
What it means for you: You’ll need to make sure each and every menu is updated with calorie counts. This includes menu boards, in-store printed menus, outside menu displays, take-out/delivery menus, online menus and menu apps.

How. Every situation is different.
What it means for you: There’s no one right way to do this. For some restaurants it may be to use the process you have in place currently to update your menus. For others it may mean it’s time to make some changes such as replacing paper menus with online menus or switching from static menu boards to digital menu boards. It’s going to be up to each chain to determine the best approach for how to comply with this mandate given the resources you have.

I personally think the FDA menu labeling requirement is a great thing as it allows chains to be more transparent with guests and build more trust and credibility with the brand. It’s a very exciting time for the restaurant industry. Stay tuned for my second post on this topic coming soon.