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When it comes to the foodservice industry, there are several regulations that you must abide by. Whether you’re a current operator or you’re thinking about getting into the foodservice industry, check out these regulations you must know.

1. Menu Labeling Law

The Menu Labeling Law was enacted in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act and aims at providing consumers transparency at restaurants and similar establishments. After the implementation was delayed multiple times by the FDA, the regulation officially went into effect on May 7, 2018. It impacts stores with 20 or more locations, doing business with the same or similar name and selling substantially the same items.

It requires these “covered locations” to post calories on menus for standard food items and disclose full nutrition for those standard items upon customer request. While this may not impact retailers with 20 or fewer locations, it does impact that retailer if they want to have a branded franchise that has over 20 locations. Yes, even the locations that operate as a business-within-a-business can be impacted. And it is important to realize that as consumers get used to seeing this “full-disclosure” approach to the food, they are eating, those stores that do not, or cannot, provide this information will be seen as inadequate and may ultimately see their consumer take their purchases elsewhere.

Ensure you are prepared to answer the call of transparency for the food you serve. While some may see this as unneeded information that clutters menus, the reality is consumers are dictating that they should be able to make their decisions based upon nutrition, even though studies show they don’t always take advantage of the healthier option.

2. “Healthy”

I put healthy in quotes because the term “healthy” is different for everyone. One customer may be going gluten-free because their best friend swears by it, while, in reality, are not gluten intolerant at all. The next customer may be on a sodium-restricted diet, while the person next to him won’t eat any genetically modified food. And the last customer may have a severe peanut allergy and can’t eat anything you have in your store because you sell bulk peanuts right next to your deli case. What makes things even harder is many of these items do not have a common definition.

Did you know the term “Natural” is not defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Yet you hear people trying to go “All-Natural.” What someone will consider good for them, they deem as healthy. However, your healthy and my healthy, regardless of what study you do or don’t believe, will likely never match up. The best advice here is to know your customer. Know what they are demanding and look for the right partner to help guide you in the correct path to match your customers’ needs with the food you provide.

3. Food Safety & Modernization Act (FSMA)

FSMA was enacted in 2011 and is the most sweeping food legislation the U.S. has ever seen. Much of FSMA changed the way the food supply chain operated and would be considered “upstream” for retailers. However, at the retail level, the key things to take away from FSMA is an enhanced emphasis on preventative controls in the food supply chain. Business owners now have a heavier burden to only purchase from reputable suppliers and have a robust system in place to verify that whoever they source their food ingredients from has adequate manufacturing, distribution, sourcing, traceability and recall processes in place.

This also means the individual store must ensure they have adequate processes in place such as adequate recall procedures. Retail store owners must ensure that the product they sell is safe and this includes ensuring that his/her supplier is also doing things correctly. The food supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

4. Local, State or other Jurisdictional Codes

These codes can range from impacting food safety, occupational safety, building construction and maintenance to equipment set-up and use. To say there are a “few” to consider would be a gross understatement. With this knowledge, it is important to work with the right third-parties to help you sort all of this out.

Consider working on construction with an engineering firm specializing in your type of store and location or having preliminary conversations with building inspectors and health department officials prior to purchasing any equipment and finally working with reputable companies that understand your industry and what you are trying to accomplish. These industry experts have typically seen it all. And when they don’t know the answer, they have the contacts and know where to go to find you the correct answers.

Some of these companies will even offer the services of a Project Manager or Business Advisor to help you walk through the process of navigating the codes that are required to get your business off of the ground.


If you have any questions at all about foodservice regulations, schedule a consultation with us below. We can walk you through and any current or upcoming regulations!

It’s well worth the time to accustom yourself to these regulations!

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