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Glossary of Terms

Menu Labeling Legislation

Labeling Education and Nutrition Act [updated bills HR.1398, S.558] (LEAN Act of 2008): A bill proposed in Congress in 2008, and reintroduced in March 2009, that details the rules and regulations regarding nutrition labeling of food offered for sale in food service establishments. If passed, the LEAN act would create a national standard for menu-labeling mandates. The NRA has a nice article about it here.

Menu Education and Labeling Act [S.2784] (MEAL Act of 2007): The precursor to the LEAN act, which would have imposed stricter standards upon restaurants regarding disclosure of nutrition information on restaurant menus. Read more about it here.

Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA): Enacted in 1994, the NLEA establishes rules and guidelines regarding food labeling. The FDA ensures and monitors compliance. While this Act refers to labels for foods sold in the retail sector, many of its rules apply to restaurant labeling as well. Read the details of the Act here.

Coalition for Responsible Nutrition Information (CRNI): A group of restaurants, industry organizations and companies that believe a uniform national nutrition standard for chain food service establishments will give consumers access to detailed nutrition information that meets their needs. Their mission is to provide consumers with comprehensive nutrition information about the food they consume while dining out, so they are able to make healthy and informed decisions about their nutrition. Visit their web site.

Health Claims

Health Claim: A reference on the label or menu that directly, or by implication, characterizes the relationship of a nutrient or substance to a disease or health related condition. The FDA regulates what can and cannot be claimed for a food. There are two main types of health claims: nutrient content claims, and qualified health claims. Read all about it at the FDA site here.

Nutrient Content Claim: A health claim that refers to a level or range of a nutrient in a food. An example would be, "low in fat." For a chart on the rules, visit this FDA page.

Qualified Health Claim: A health claim that includes both a reference to a nutrient or substance, and a reference to a disease or health related condition. An example would be expressing a relationship between fat and cancer risk. For a chart on the rules, visit this FDA page.

Implied Health Claim: A type of nutrient content claim that includes symbols or other less direct claims. And example would be to use a heart symbol (to designate "Heart Healthy") next to menu items that meet the criteria for Low Fat. These types of claims are the most useful to restaurants. The FDA outlines the rules on implied claims here.