One Year Out: All Menus to Require Calories

Are you ready?

For the past few years, the ruling for labeling menu items has been pushed back a number of times due to the absence of clarity regarding who must follow it.

The most recent extension happened this past July. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) pushed the law out again, one year past its most recent deadline, which was supposed to be December 1, 2015.

Fast Casuals, Quick Serves, Convenience stores, are you ready? One year from today, on December 1, 2016, all restaurant menus and menu boards will require calorie count, by law.


Wait, tell me more.

A few months ago, we wrote about the upcoming much needed makeover to nutrition labels on food packaging. Now, all restaurant menu boards will require a makeover as well. The purpose of which is for restaurants to inform their patrons of the nutritional value of their food items.

The rule affects any chain restaurant with more than 20 outlets, which equates to more than 275,000 restaurant locations across the country. This also includes any type of retail establishment that offers ready-to-eat food (convenience stores, grocery stores, etc.). In addition to every menu item showing associated calorie count, the following statement must be on all menus and menu boards: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary. Additional nutrition information available upon request.”


What does this mean for brands?

Any establishment that has printed menus and menu boards will need to make amends to their visuals.

The FDA hopes that this readily available information will positively affect food choices made by Americans, but they are also aware that it will affect restaurants and their overhead budgets. There’s a year left to strategize. One year to gather all necessary information and get a handle on this undertaking.

Some brands might consider cutting excess menu items from their assortment, which will help prevent unnecessary amounts of changes to menu boards. Trim menus equal less menu updates.

Whether this sparks smaller menus or not, restaurants will have to make an update to their visual food lists. Have you been planning for this change? Will you start updating your menu boards now, or is your team putting it off until later next year? We recommend starting now.

DairyQueen - Drive-thru Menu

Don’t forget drive-thru menus!


Imagine! is here to help

We advise you to allow enough time for a menu overhaul. This includes creative strategy, design and printing.

If you look at the glass half full, this gives restaurants an opportunity to show customers that they care about their well-being and that they have nothing to hide. Check out this positive article from QSR Web, which insists the long-term effects of the change will ultimately be a good thing.

As a seasoned vet in menu and menu board creation and production, Imagine! Print Solutions is poised and ready to ramp up production for this nationwide update. We not only have web-based systems for “custom menu building” and a creative team on hand to assist in menu design, but we also provide virtual proofs to review menu options and make changes. Don’t forget the setup, we have innovative solutions for menu board installation. Find out what we can help you with!


We love to design and render menu board installations

Over the next year, take a hard look at your menu and menu board production process and know that Imagine! is here to help you start fresh and brainstorm cost-savings and speed-to-market ideas that will improve your menu system and your patrons’ overall experience.