A new labeling requirement for menus and vending machines was included in the just-passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the Health Care Bill. It specifies that all restaurant chains with 20 or more stores must include calorie counts for all products on their menus, except for daily specials. The requirement also applies to vending machines if calorie counts for the items inside are not clearly visible.
The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide how to count the calories of mixed foods, such as soft drinks, ice cream and pizza, that have a combination of ingredients and are available in a variety of serving sizes.
In recent years, an increasing number of states and regions have enacted similar menu labeling requirements, and many are more extensive than the new federal program. The National Restaurant Association (NRA), which supports the new federal program, has worked with Congress over the past two years to seek its passage because NRA wants the federal program to preempt the states.
Under rules that will be formulated by the Food and Drug Administration, individual restaurants and smaller chains can voluntarily comply with the federal rules and get pre-emption from state and local requirements. FDA has one year to propose the new regulations.
The Health Care package was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday.
Read the full text of the labeling requirements here.
Members with questions may contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of legislative and policy affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 220-3553.