Food Laws – Restaurant Menu Labeling


On March 23, 2010, the President signed the health care reform legislation into law. Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information for standard menu items on restaurant menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. Other nutrient information – total calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein – would have to be made available in writing upon request. The Act also requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie content for certain items.

The FDA has issued a Federal Register notice that explains how restaurants and similar retail food establishments with fewer than 20 locations and vending machine operators with fewer than 20 vending machines can voluntarily register to become subject to new federal menu labeling requirements.

July 2015 Update:

Previously the FDA had mandated that chain restaurants, grocery stores and other covered businesses had to have their menus labeled with calorie content of foods by December 2015. After extensive input from those affected by the rule the FDA agrees that additional time will be necessary and is extending the compliance date for the menu labeling rule to December 1, 2016.

July 2014 Update:

The regulations to implement this federal law have not been finalized, but some states and local jurisdictions have implemented their own menu label policies, and many restaurants have already begun providing menu labels.


  • Lee-Kwan, Seung Hee, et al. (2014, July 11). “Restaurant menu labeling use among adults – 17 states, 2012.” Retrieved from
  • (2014, May 22). “Menu and vending machine labeling requirements.” Retrieved from
  • Taylor, Michael. (2015, June 9). “FDA statement on extension of menu labeling compliance date”. Retrieved from

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