Omelette's food menus

FDA’s Initial Menu Labeling Steps: Consumers’ Path to Healthy Food Choices

Omelette's food menus
You can now watch what you're eating because menus will have nutrition information on them.

Consumers can already make healthy food choices and at the same time watch what they’re eating because of The Affordable Care Act. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already opened a docket to the public. Through this, they are able to obtain comments, data and other information on how they can properly implement section 4205 of the recently passed health reform bill, The Affordable Care Act.

“By opening this docket to comment, FDA is taking a significant step in our long-fought efforts to provide consumers with nutritional information on the foods and beverages they purchase in chain restaurants and at vending machines,” said Harkin. “I have long said that it makes no sense that consumers can find nutritional information on almost anything they purchase at the grocery store, but are left clueless when it comes time to go out for a meal. The menu labeling provision of The Affordable Care Act will finally change this discrepancy. It is my hope that this comment period will offer useful information to make this provision as effective as possible to help consumers while at the same time not putting an undue burden on businesses”.

“This menu labeling requirement is one of the many important provisions of The Affordable Care Act that will help make the healthy choices, the easy choices. This is a significant part of our efforts to rein in health care costs and improve the overall well being of our nation by moving to a true wellness society. I am pleased to see our efforts in the health reform bill come to fruition and look forward to the many benefits they will continue provide down the road.”

This, new federal law, section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, requires the posting of calorie content and other nutrition information on menu items at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food operations, vending machines, and even drive-through menu boards. It also sets new requirements for foods sold at certain restaurants, coffee shops, delis, movie theaters, bakeries, ice cream shops, and in vending machines.  Other nutrition information – total calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, and total protein – must be made available in writing on request.

Such menu labeling provision in The Affordable Care Act is a result of the cooperation between the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, and the Labeling Education and Nutrition (LEAN) Act, sponsored by Senators Carper and Murkowski. Being the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Harkin crafted the Prevention and Public Health title of The Affordable Care Act.

To ensure that everybody reaps the benefits of this law, FDA is encouraging the food industry, state and local governments, consumers and other interest parties to submit their comments and suggestions about menu labeling. The docket has been opened since July 7, 2010 and will remain for 60 days. If you have not submitted your comments or suggestions yet, here are the two ways to submit them (just be sure to include docket number FDA-2010-N-0298 on each page of your written comments):

To submit your comments electronically to the docket, go to this link http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#home  and follow the steps below:

1. Choose “Submit a Comment” from the top task bar of
2. Enter the docket number FDA-2010-N-0298 in the “Keyword” space
3. Select “Search”

To submit your comments to the docket by mail, use the following address:

The Division of Dockets Management
HFA-305
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

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