In Lehmann's terms: counting calories, part 2

As I discussed last month in the firstpart of this article, there are changescoming our way in terms of nutritionaldeclarations for pizzas and other productsthat you sell. Presently, Parts 11and 101 of Title 21 of the Code of FederalRegulations (CFR) are under reviewconcerning the proposed rules of “FoodLabeling; Nutrition Labeling of StandardMenu Items in Restaurants andSimilar Retail Food Establishments.”As the proposal in the Federal Registerstates, these rules are intended forestablishments with 20 or more stores;however, in light of the attention currentlybeing given to the obesity problemin this country, we’re sure to see statesand municipalities adopt the new rulesand impose them on all food establishments,including independently ownedsingle-store establishments, within theirborders. For this reason, everyone needsto be aware of these rules and regulations.You can download a copy of theFederal Register, Vol. 76, No. 66, whichshows the proposed changes, at edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-7940.pdf.

There are about 45 pages in this document,but the “meat” is contained inthe last five pages. Additionally, youshould be able to get more information,especially on the final rules (which are anticipated to go into effect mid-2012),from your state’s restaurant organization,and also from the National RestaurantAssociation (NRA) at 202-331-5900or 800-424-5156. You can find furtherdetails and updates at restaurant.org/menulabeling.

Are These Rules Applicableto Me?

A couple of things can happen that mightmake these regulations applicable to everyone.First, when all of the chains aredisplaying nutritional information fortheir menu items, consumer pressuremay force independents to provide nutritionalinformation as well. Or perhapsyour municipality or state will make a

move to adopt the federal rules, makingthem applicable to all restaurant establishments,and you will be forced intocompliance even though you have onlya single store. In reviewing the regulations,be sure to ask yourself: “Howwould this impact me, and how would Ifulfill these requirements?”

Odd Regulations

One oddity that exists in the presentdraft of regulations is that an entirepizza will appear as a single-servingitem, requiring the full calorie count forthe entire pizza be shown on the menu.But think about that for a minute: Howmany of your customers come in and ordera single, say, 14” pizza, and eat theentire pizza themselves? In my experience,pizza is shared among two peopleor more, so why not provide the nutritionalinformation for a single slice? Thiswould be done by simply dividing thetotal calorie count of the pizza (whichyou’re going to have to show, anyway)by the number of slices, which might befour, six or eight.

Pizza companies that make productsthat are packaged and sold in grocerystores have the option of providing nutritionalinformation on a division of thepizza (if sold uncut) or per slice whensold precut, so why should restaurantshave to present the calories on the wholepizza? Think of the similarity betweena box of cereal and a pizza: Both havethe potential to be consumed in a singleserving, but both are typically consumedin multiple servings. However, the box ofcereal has its nutritional information indicatedon a defined serving basis.

Keep in mind that, in addition todeveloping the nutritional data viaassay, a purchased software programor by nutritional professionals, theinformation must be displayed to theconsumer in a prescribed manner(covered in the rules and regulationsmentioned above). This might mean aredesign of your menu board, as well asa redesign of your table menus. You willalso need to train your employees onhow to respond to requests for additionalnutritional information. Some arealready doing all of this, but for others, itwill be a learning experience—and justanother cost of doing business.

Thanks to the AIB Food Labeling Group for its assistanceand guidance in developing this article. Formore information, contact labelorder@aibonline.org.

Tom “The Dough Doctor” Lehmann discusseswhy you should monitor the new labeling laws.Tom Lehmann is the directorof bakery assistance for the
American Institute of Baking(AIB). Need more dough advice?Visit the Dough InformationCenter at PMQ.com/dough.