The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release, dated August 24, 2010, providing guidance and outlining steps to help chain restaurants comply with new federal nutrition labeling requirements. The new law applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations. The law requires the establishment 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.

In the press release, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. said

One of the most important things we can do when it comes to the nation’s health is to provide simple basic information to the American people so they can make choices that are best for them and their family. The menu labeling program will help Americans get the facts about food choices that are available to them in restaurants and vending machines so they know what is in the food and can make healthier selections.

The FDA has until March 23, 2011 to carry out these provisions. FDA has issued guidance documents to help restaruants get started. The FDA is soliciting feedback now, if you want your voice heard, respond to FDA’s Federal Register Notice by October 21, 2010.