Final FDA Calorie Menu Labeling Rules

  • Saturday, November 29, 2014
  • After many years of delay, the FDA final released the final rules for menu labeling in restaurants.  The final ruling can be read here.

    Here is a short summary of the ruling.

    What are calorie menu labeling rules?
    If you meet criteria, your food establishment will have to display calories next to food items which are routinely offered.  Items which are daily specials are temporary do not have to have calories on it.

    Who has to provide calorie labeling?

    Menu labeling only applies if:

    • You are an covered establishment and have 20 or more locations
    • The establishment is DBA as the same name

    Also the list extends just beyond restaurants:

    Definition of Covered Establishment - 101.11(a)  
    YES NO
    Restaurants, Quick Service, Table Service School - 7 CFR 210.2 220.2
    Bakeries Trains
    Cafeteria Airplanes
    Coffee Shops  
    Convenience Stores  
    Food Service Facilities - Entertainment Venues  
    Amusement Parks  
    Bowling Alleys  
    Movie Theaters  
    Food Service Vendors - Ice Cream Shops  
    Mall Cookie Counters  
    Food Take Out (pizza)  
    Delivery Establishments  
    Grocery Stores  
    Retail Confectionary Stores  

    If you are in the 'YES' column you will be under the regulations.

    How do I provide menu calorie labeling?

    The FDA allows establishments to use nutrition databases or lab analysis.  Since Menutail uses USDA data, you can use our site to generate your nutrition analysis!

    Do I need to keep records after I do my calorie analysis?

    The FDA may request records of your analysis methods.  Menutail will provide custom audit reports you can send to the FDA.

    Do I need to have calories on alcochol?
    Yes, alcohols will need to have calorie labeling.

    When do I need to complete my menu labeling by?
    December 1st, 2015

    Menutail is following this regulation closely, and if you have any questions you can e-mail




Can I use Menutail for nutrition analysis for pickled foods

  • Tuesday, October 21, 2014
  • Before we talk about pickled foods, let us look a little bit more into what happens when things are pickled.  I recommend picking up the Art of Fermentation for general knowledge about the science and good recipes for pickling.  Here are 3 explanations from the book:

    Fermenting Vegetables (Chapter 5)
    There is an underlying unity to all vegetable fermentation: By keeping vegetables submerged under liquid, you create a selective environment where molds and other oxygen-dependent organisms cannot grow, thereby encouraging acidifying bacteria. Beyond this simple technique, in all the particulars of what, where, when, and how, approaches to vegetable fermentation can be quite varied and quirky. Some traditions wilt vegetables, either in saltwater brine or in the sun; others pound or bruise fresh vegetables. Some people ferment a single vegetable, while others mix a dozen different vegetables together, perhaps along with spices, fruit, fish, rice, mashed potatoes, or other additions. Some people ferment theirs for just a few days; others for weeks, months, or even years. Some ferment in sealed jars; others in open crocks; others in specially designed vessels. Some ferment in cellars or buried crocks; others on balconies or in garages; still others right on their kitchen counters. Some ferment in the protection of darkness; others directly in the sun. Most traditions work with the bacteria native to the vegetables; some add various starters. There is no single way of accomplishing this task that has been so widely interpreted in varied regions by different cultural traditions, and incorporated into infinite unique secret family recipes, passed down through the generations, with periodic adjustments and adaptations.
    Vitamin C (chapter 5)
    While the fermentation process does not contribute additional vitamin C (as it does with B vitamins, see The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods in chapter 2 ), it does preserve vitamin C by slowing down its loss. A 1938 study undertaken by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station demonstrated that “the loss of vitamin C begins only after the fermentation process . . . has been completed and the production of carbon dioxide has practically ceased.” The study concludes that the post-fermentation loss of vitamin C “is due more to a loss of the protective atmosphere of carbon dioxide than to any other factor.” 9 Even if nutrients are not fully preserved forever, keeping more of them longer is valuable.
    Nutrition Enhancement (Chapter 2)
    Nutritional Enhancement In the process of pre-digestion, many ferments accumulate increased levels of B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3), as compared with the raw ingredients prior to fermentation. Vitamin B12 is controversial, as tempeh and some other plant source ferments once thought to contain high levels of B12 have been found instead to contain inactive analogues, 15 now known as pseudovitamin B12. 16 (Some contend that bacterial “contamination” of the pure Rhizopus oligosporus tempeh cultures in non-industrial settings accounts for B12 in traditional tempeh but not in the pure culture product. 17 ) Fermentation increases availability of the essential amino acid lysine in cereal grains (more markedly in LAB-containing sourdoughs than in pure yeast fermentations). 18 Various ferments create unique micronutrients, not present in the raw ingredients, produced by the fermenting organisms. For instance, the Japanese soy ferment natto contains an enzyme called nattokinase, which exhibits “very potent fibrinolytic activity . . . for managing a wide range of diseases, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease (such as angina), stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.” 19 New research has found that nattokinase also degrades amyloid fibrils and may be effective as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. 20 In cabbage fermentation, phytochemicals known as glucosinolates are broken down into compounds including isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol, “anticarcinogens capable of preventing certain cancers,” according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 21 Who knows what other compounds as yet unrecognized by science may be present in all our varied ferments?

    Katz, Sandor Ellix (2012-05-15). The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World

    In short pickling probably does affect B1, B2, B3, and B12.  However at the moment those are not required nutrients for disclosure. 

New Nutrition Facts Label Redesign Mandate by FDA

  • Friday, April 4, 2014
  • The FDA recently issued two draft proposal notices that will change the design and information of the nutrition facts label.
    We took a review of it, and here are the immediate highlights and concerns.

    Implementation Period

    We are currently in the 90 day comment period.  During this time, any person can issue a comment against the regulation via the links above.  After the comment period, the FDA reviews the rules, and the issues a final rule.  Once the final rule is complete, all food vendors then have two years to make the changes.  So as a best guess, food vendors probably have 2.5 - 3.5 to generate this new label.

    Serving Size Changes

    One of the biggest changes is to 'reference amounts customarily consumed' (RACC).  In the current food label, the serving size is typically considered the amount of one portion.  The FDA is updating the guidance of how a serving size should be defined.

    For example, let us say you have one package with two cookies.  And on your nutrition facts label, you say one serving size is 'one cookie'.  So if you ate both cookies, you are actually eating 2 serving sizes.

    In the updated RACCs, there is new guidance to have a single serving container representing one serving.  So if you have 1.5 - 2 servings per container, the FDA basically wants you to round up that to one serving size.  The draft proposal link above has more detailed information in the different scenarios.

    Added Sugars

    There is a new line item on the nutrition facts label which declares an 'added sugar'.  So if you a cake for example, all of the 'granulated white sugar' would be considered an added sugar.  If this regulation occurs on the final label, we advise food vendors to think about ways of lowering their added sugars when consumers see these new numbers in the marketplace.

    New Micronutrient Declarations
    In the current label, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron are mandatory micronutrients.  Now they are Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.  In light of this, we advise food vendors to check their formulations against the new micronutrients list.

    The new label


The Growing Importance of Food Labels

  • Friday, December 20, 2013
  • This week, the Boston Globe wrote an article about how Americans are beginning to take a closer look at food labels.

    In particular, one of the big online presences causing a lot of the change is Food Babe.  Her site is quite effective of rallying people to talk to big companies to not put so many preservatives (e.g. unprounceable) ingredients into their food.

    If you are a food vendor, I would definitely encourage you to begin thinking about your master recipe formulation and whether it would pass the muster of sites such as Food Babe.

    Anecdotally it seems like the trend is for Americans to take a closer look at the ingredient listing on food labels.  With that, taking a proactive approach on your formulation regarding nutrition might help raise your brand awareness and sales long term.