Menu Labeling: Overview

The federal menu labeling requirement that took effect May 7, 2018, requires many restaurant establishments to post calories on menus and menu boards and make other nutrition information available to guests upon request.

The National Restaurant Association is working to educate its members about compliance and ensure a smooth transition as enforcement of the menu labeling requirement gets underway. The Food and Drug Administration's focus during the first year was on educating restaurants about the requirements. Enforcement began May 7, 2019.  

Congress enacted the federal menu labeling law in 2010, requiring restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations to add calorie data to menus and make other nutrition information available to guests upon request.

Our Position

The National Restaurant Association worked with more than 60 public health and other business groups in support of the nutrition disclosure law. The industry supported the following principles that formed the basis of the law:

  • Federal preemption -- Preempts more than twenty varying state and local requirements..
  • Legal liability protection -- Offers legal protections to restaurants that can show a “reasonable basis” for the nutrition information they provide, with significant flexibility in the “reasonable basis” standard.
  • Similar retail food establishments -- Levels the playing field by ensuring that all entities that serve restaurant-type food, including convenience and grocery stores, are covered by the law’s requirements.
  • Small business protection -- Provides a mechanism for smaller businesses to voluntary come under the law’s legal requirements and preemption protections.
  • Flexibility -- Provides guidance on how to label nutrition information and where information should be in a restaurant.