Menu Labeling in the Health Care Reform Bill

Within all of the complicated and controversial new laws and regulations written in the US Health Care Reform Bill lies a national menu labeling law. The bill will affect all chain restaurants in the country with 20 or more location and will preempt all state and local menu labeling laws.

Of course I'm stoked that soon we won't have to worry about many different pocket laws and differing regulations across the country.

Here’s a little bit more about who will be affected and how:

Who is Affected?

Restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership of the locations) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.

What does not need to be Labeled:

Condiments or items offered for general use.
Specials/temporary items listed on the menu less than 60 days out of the calendar year.
Test items offered on the menu for less than 90 days out of the calendar year.
Custom orders

Menu Variability and Combination Meals: Regulations to be determined.

Enactment Date: With in one year, exact date to be determined.

The goal of the bill is to help people make better choices by providing them calorie counts at the point of purchase. The affect of these laws on a local level has been mixed.

Do you think we’ll see positive results nationally? If so how long will it take?

Views: 14

Tags: analysis, care, diet, foodcalc, health, healthy, labeling, menu, nutrition, prevention, More…reform


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Comment by Alyson Mar, RD on April 6, 2010 at 8:51am
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and comments about the national menu labeling law. I think that you all make very valid points. I agree that these laws will add extra strain to chain restaurants as will any new regulation that affects any type of business, but they will adapt and they do have options and resources. I also agree that seeing these facts on menus won’t change the eating habits of a lot of diners, but I don’t think that these laws are useless either. Hopefully this information will empower diners to make more informed decisions over time. Educational resources like Michelle Obama’s campaign to combat childhood obesity will hopefully teach more people how to use these numbers.
Comment by Doug Golden on April 6, 2010 at 5:22am
Courtney - I appreciate your thought in all of this. But what exactly are you basing your statement that "the younger generation that will eat out of the home more often then we do today" on? Is there some kind of research that indicates that? As far as the labeling of packaged foods and their contents.... I agree 100%. It is a good thing. I am a label reader myself. However... even in the light of having labeling on foods for years now the obesity rate of children is at an all time high. Granted, the more information we have about food and what it contains whether it is calories or ingredients allows us to make better choices. If people truly want to change this overweight culture we have it needs to start from the bottom up, not from government. It needs to start in the home. Kids learn eating habits primarily from their parents and eat what their parents bring into the home. How many times have you seen overweight parents with overweight kids? If we teach our kids to eat healthy hopefully it will form good eating habits and carry over into their adult lives. If parents themselves will take personal responsibility and teach their children it will have a far better effect than any government mandate.
Comment by Courtney on April 5, 2010 at 7:30pm
Having spoken to several professionals while composing my senior thesis, I've discovered some research that pertains to the comment of the requirement of posting the information and people not using the information. Although these new regulations won't affect the society as a whole today, the next generation tomorrow will be affected. It has happened before with the mandating nutritional labeling on canned and packaged food. It causes an uproar of people knowing what is in their food but eventually it leads to a more nutritional savvy public that knows more about nutrition. Yes, the public will eat what they want but it creates awareness in the younger generation that will eat out of the home more often then we do today. Those young today will become more knowledgeable as to how to choose healthier just as people 25-40 have learned to choose healthier foods when cooking at home.

If you want to help me collect a more quantifiable response to the nutritional labeling laws in affect please take my short on-line survey. I would really appreciate you response.
Comment by Doug Golden on April 5, 2010 at 9:49am
I posted several times over the past year about the whole government healthcare bill and if passed how I thought it was more government intrusion into our lives. I had several comments on my blogs from many who asked what relevance this had on the restaurant industry. Some even said that FohBoh was not the forum to post such things and I was "ranting". I was even scolded at times. Ironically the negative comments came from FohBoh members who were from other nations that currently have government healthcare. They completely defend it. They think it's "reasonable". They are entitled to their opinion.

Steve, I watched the video you provided a link for. It was excellent and refelects what is logically going to happen. I am willing to bet that this mandate will achieve nothing but added costs and headaches to these chain operators. They will defer the costs buy limiting their expansion and hiring less employees. The impact on us regular Joe diners will be miniscule. I am sure very few will benefit from having this information readily available. Diabetics and those with high blood pressure (who are mindful of it and trying to eat healthier!) can make better choices. However posting information by law in plain sight does nothing to change behavior as a society. It is recognizing and acting on ones personal responsiblility that changes our behavior and lives. Not government mandates and regulation. Most areas of the country have a speed limit of 65 mph. It is the law and posted everywhere on the interstate but people still drive 95mph knowing it is unsafe... with this mandated caloric posting law... most people will have this enlightening data and still CHOOSE to shovel 3 calzones down thier pieholes and finish it off with cheesecake.

Maybe we should have the government appoint a "Fat Czar" to look into it?
Comment by Courtney on April 4, 2010 at 5:22pm
The link was not included in the above comment.
Comment by Courtney on April 4, 2010 at 11:54am
I'm doing my senior thesis about how restaurants can use the current menu labeling laws to make a profit. I've spoken to several managers of a leading restaurant chain about their involvement in this federal labeling law. I'm interested in knowing how other restaurants are affected by the current labeling laws. I would appreciate if you'd give me the feed back in my on-line survey. It's not a solicit and is completely confidential.
Comment by Emerald Reilly on April 4, 2010 at 3:19am
I think this will be great. As it is now, the very popular, large chain of restaurants I work for has the nutritional information on a separate menu. I don't think it has made much of a difference in people's choices so far. I think it will be a greater impact now that the calories will be right next to the name.
Comment by Steve Paterson on April 1, 2010 at 4:20pm
See video link here

The new federal menu mandate meets the real world....more Big Gov Tomfoolery
Comment by Brian Bruce on March 31, 2010 at 7:42pm
It may make a difference in what I order but not for a majority in my opinion. How many people does the General Surgeon's Warning on cigarettes deter?




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