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Healthcare Reform: What Does it Mean for Restaurants?

What does healthcare reform have to do with my restaurant business?
Earlier this year, President Obama signed the healthcare reform bill (HR 3590) into law. Part of this law specifically addresses rules about restaurants posting calorie counts. Restaurant chains with 20 or more locations nationwide must post calorie content of menu items. These numbers must appear on menus, menu boards, drive-through displays, and vending machines. Furthermore, additional nutrition information, like sodium, fat, and more, must be available on request.

Where can I read a copy of this bill?
A PDF, downloaded directly from the US Government Printing Office, is available for download here. See section 4205, page 455, of this document for the original language.

But I have daily specials -- do I have to have them analyzed too?
No. Exceptions to the law include items that are not listed on a menu or menu board (such as condiments and other items placed on the table or counter for general use); daily specials, temporary menu items appearing on the menu for less than 60 days per calendar year, or custom orders; and other food that is part of a market test appearing on the menu for less than 90 days.

Does the National Restaurant Association support this legislation?
Yes. They are in favor of a clear, uniform, nationwide set of rules, rather than a state-to-state patchwork of differing laws. Read their press release here.

When must restaurants comply?
Restaurants are given one year from the date the bill was passed into law, so the deadline is March 28, 2011.

The HR 3590 document does not answer a lot of my questions. When will more detailed inforamtion be available?
The Secretary of Health and Human Services is currently working with the FDA to outline the scope and specifics of these rules. Welltech Bistro will publish this infomation as it becomes available.