Will This Major Retail Chain Be Ready For The May 5th FDA Menu Labeling Law?
For starters, it appears their freshly prepared pizzas are nationally cutting their pizzas into 8 slices, while their Nutrition Facts label advertises 6, but there’s more!
I visited a major retailer in December 2016. While there, I noticed they were selling freshly prepared pizzas in a warming case near the cash register. It was around dinner time, so I thought I’d try their pizza.
After my family and I finished eating the pizza, I checked out the pizza box’s packaging. Oddly enough it was located on the bottom of the box! This is not where I would expect to find the nutritional information and advertising for a hot fresh pizza. Common sense dictates that turning a pizza box upside down with a hot pizza inside of it would result in the pizza toppings, cheese and sauce sticking to the inside top of the box. Probably not the first place one would consider when looking for nutritional information… before eating a hot pizza inside of that box.
Curious, I started to read the Nutrition Facts label. The first non-factual fact I discovered is the serving size and the servings per container. The Nutritional Facts label advertised 1/6 of the pizza at 132 grams per weight with 6 servings per container. That’s good to know, but I recalled the pizza I bought was cut into 8 slices.
The second non-factual fact I observed, was how poorly the pizza was cut into slices. The pizza was so poorly cut that none of the slices came close to being cut equal which is a very important requirement of the FDA menu labeling law going into effect in May.
Even though the pizza was cut into 8 slices, none of those slices were equally cut, so none of the slices would weigh 132 grams, nor would any of the nutrient information being advertised on the Nutrition Label be factual. Maybe the employee accidentally cut the pizza into 8 slices instead of 6. Could it be possible this major retailer believes every employee can cut pizzas freehand into equal slices perfectly nearly every time?
Maybe this is just an isolated incident, just human error? Besides, accidents do happen.
But…what if this wasn’t just a one- time accident by an employee? Could this be a nationwide issue, affecting thousands of locations and hundreds of thousands of pizzas nationwide? Could each location be cutting every pizza into 8 slices not knowing that their own pizza box states that their pizzas should be cut into 6?
Could this major retail chain actually free hand cutting their pizzas, assuming that their employees can consistently cut pizzas into equal slices without using a pizza cutting guide, like the Portion PadL?
Curious to answer these questions, the next evening I bought another pizza from the same location for dinner. Again, the pizza was cut into 8 servings. The Nutrition Facts label, located on the bottom of the box stated 6 and yes, the pizza was poorly cut. Before going to the cash register to pay for my pizza, I went to the deli department, where their freshly prepared pizzas are made. I asked the deli manager how many slices the pizza should be cut?
She said 8.
There are four locations of this major retail chain within a twenty-mile radius from where I live, so I decided to buy a pizza from each of those locations and question deli employees of their cutting standards. I discovered all four locations cut their pizzas into 8 slices and didn’t use a cutting guide to cut their pizzas into equal portions, slices.
Maybe improperly cutting the pizzas into the advertised portions is just a local issue. Or, maybe it isn’t? I called over a dozen locations within Ohio and it’s surrounding states. All of those locations also cut their pizzas into 8 slices and not into 6 slices as their pizza box advertises. I decided to call this major retail chain to let them know of potentially violating the current FDA menu labeling requirements with advertising the nutrient label in an inconspicuous location. In addition, by not factually advertising the nutrient information found on the Nutrition Facts label by possibly instructing all the locations knowingly or not knowingly, to cut their pizzas into 8 slices instead of the 6 portions as advertised on the pizza box and unequally cutting their pizzas they may be at risk for a civil lawsuit for falsely advertising their product as well as possible menu labeling non-compliance violations starting May 5th. I called more than six times, spent hours on the phone and found that no one could find the right person for me to relay this important information.
In January of 2017, I was in California visiting a relative. I decided to buy a pizza from that major retailer in Oxnard. There too, the pizza was cut into 8 slices instead of the 6 slices as advertised on their box. And yes, the slices were so poorly cut, none would have accurately represented the advertised Nutritional Facts should the panel advertised 8 slices.
Back from California, I called the first location where I originally noticed the “Pizzagate” discrepancies and asked to speak to a regional manager. The regional manager just happened to be at that location. He seemed to be genuinely concerned. He said he would take my observations to his management team above him.
Last week I attended a pizza convention in Las Vegas. I decided to call two of the chain locations in Las Vegas. Both confirmed that they cut their pizzas into 8 slices.
The menu labeling law for fast and casual chains of 20 or more is set to go into effect May 5, 2017. That’s less than a month away and since over 20 locations of this major retailer sell freshly prepared pizza, they will be required to comply with this new federal law.
Unfortunately, even after trying to bring attention to them about possibly violating current FDA labeling requirements and falsely advertising the Nutritional Facts as well as alerting them to the fact that by cutting their pizzas into 8 slices instead of the advertised 6 slices, this chain will be non-compliant as of May 5, 2017. Maybe someone within their organization will conclude this article is intended for them and they will have time to make the changes so they are in compliance by May 5th.
What’s the solution? Using a portioning guide, like the Portion PadL, to cut the pizzas into equal slices. Our fully customizable portioning guide is positioned on a cutting board and gets you compliant, makes cutting equal slices easier than it’s ever been, and saves on food waste.