Even though the compliance date for menu labeling has moved (again), it’s important not to lose sight of the end game. Here are three action items to prepare you for menu labeling that you shouldn’t delay.
1. Analyze your recipes. If you don’t have nutrition data for your menu items, you’ll want to get started now. This activity may take you longer than you think, especially if you don’t have all of the ingredient information you need from your suppliers. You may also find your recipes are missing some key information your analyst needs to calculate the nutrition.
2. Develop your compliance process. While we don’t know exactly who or how the menu labeling rules will be enforced, we know what FDA will require to prove you have a reasonable basis for the nutrient values you report. Familiarize yourself with the documentation language in the regulation and make sure that documentation is organized and readily available. If you don’t know what documentation is required, send me an email and I’ll get you the specifics (email@example.com).
3. Create a training program. You operators will need to be prepared when calories come on the menu – this is where it all comes to life! Back-of-house staff will need to understand the importance of following the standardized recipe for which the calorie declarations are based on and front-of-house staff will need to be prepared to interact with customers.
Cheryl L. Dolven, MS, RDN is a nutrition consultant with over 15 years in corporate dietetics, including experience in packaged foods, retail, and restaurants. In addition to her work in nutrition affairs and food & nutrition communication, Cheryl works with restaurants to guide them through the menu labeling regulation, to make it manageable for businesses and meaningful for consumers. Cheryl is co-author of Recipe Nutrient Analysis: Best Practices for Calculation and Chemical Analysis and was recognized by FSR Magazine as one of its “40 rising stars under 40” in 2014.