FDA menu labeling law is for chains of 20 or more that sell fresh prepared foods are in effect. All chains which sell pizza are legally required to cut their pizzas into equal slices. This is a considerable shift in the typical way pizzas are cut. Traditionally, pizzas are cut on an ordinary cutting board then slid into a pizza box. The other usual way to cut a pizza is by cutting the pizza in a pizza box. Then the box is folded around the cut pizza. Either way, these pizzas are not consistently cut into equal slices. More than likely, the pizzas are cut consistently into unequal slices. Why does this matter? Why does the FDA require pizzas to be cut into equal slices? The FDA menu labeling law says so.
The menu labeling law can be categorized into three compliance categories. Compliance requirements with the preparation of regular menu items, compliance requirements with the menu design and compliance requirements with the serving of the regular menu items. Each of the three categories have specific guidelines for each category.
When chains prepare their regular menu items, they are required to analyze their menu recipes to formulate the calories and nutrition per each serving. The calories need to be accurately advertised on the chain’s menus and menu boards. The nutrition information does not need to be posted on the menus rather, the chains are required to have documentation available at each location with the nutritional information for each of the menu items for customer inquiries.
Once the calories and nutritional information are established, the FDA has specific guidelines for the menu boards. Among other requirements, the menu boards must post the calories to each menu item, in a certain text size and certain required locations. Each menu and menu board must state the daily calorie intake.
The third category require chains to serve portions that are equal to the calories that was used to formulate each of the regular menu items and are advertised on the chains menus. Each serving is required to be served in equal portions. That way the menu items being served accurately represent the calories posted on the menus and the nutrients are accurately represented with the nutritional information kept at each of the chain’s locations and the chain’s corporate office.
A serving of pizza is a little more complicated than a hot dog or a hamburger. The FDA has defined pizza as a food item that is usually consumed by more than one person. Therefore, pizza is defined by the FDA as a multiple serving item. The FDA classifies the slices of a pizza as a single serving portion, a discreet serving unit. That means pizzas are required to be cut equally so when chains advertise the calories per slice, each slice represents the amount of calories posted on the chains menus.
Most chains selling pizza are advertising the calories on their menus not by the whole pizza, rather by the slice of a whole pizza. If pizzas are not equally cut, the chain’s location and the chain can be in violation of misbranding. A violation with the potential of expensive financial consequences.
On the FDA’s website,
https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm515020.htmthe FDA states, “During the first year of implementation, the FDA will work cooperatively with covered establishments to achieve high levels of compliance with the menu labeling requirements.” The first year of this law allows the pizza industry time to adapt to cutting pizzas into equal slices. After the first year though, it will be very easy for disgruntled customers and competitors to file a complaint by emailing the FDA pictures of a location not cutting their pizzas into equal slices, pictures just like the picture used for this article.
Greg Getzinger is the owner and inventor of the Portion PadL. More information about the Portion PadL and the FDA menu labeling compliances can be found at https://portionpadl.com/