On November 25, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized the long-awaited final rule relating to menu labeling requirements for restaurants and similar establishments.  The rule requires that calorie and other nutrition information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments.  It also requires calorie information to be listed in connection with vending machine sales.

The new restaurant rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (whether owned or franchised), offering for sale substantially the same menu items, and offering for sale restaurant-type foods.  Restaurant-type foods are foods that are usually eaten on the premises, while walking away from the premises, or soon after arriving at another location.  The rule only applies to standard menu items and not to condiments, daily specials, temporary menu items, or custom orders.

The vending machine rule requires operators that own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie information for food sold from such vending machines, although there are some exemptions.

The new rules will be effective as of December 1, 2015, which is also the date by which establishments will be required to come into compliance with the new rules.

With Americans eating one-third of their calories away from home, the purpose of the new rule is to help consumers make more informed food choices.

The Final Rule can be found here.