Frequently asked questions on the new menu labeling requirement for catering establishments in India

The packaging and labeling of food products served in a catering establishment in India is regulated by the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations, 2011 (“Regulations”). The Regulations were amended in August 2020 to introduce the concept of menu labeling for the first time in India. Menu labeling refers to the process of declaring nutritional information, caloric value per serving, allergen information, and logo display for vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as applicable, on menus/boards/ restaurant and hotel menu booklets. The menu labeling guidelines have been in effect since January 1, 2022. However, the food regulator has eased its strict enforcement until June 30, 2022 to allow additional time for food business operators to adopt the menu labeling mandates. In order to ensure compliance with the Regulations, the food regulator will begin verifying claims by sampling foods listed on food business operators’ menu cards/boards/booklets from July 1, 2022. As the date is approaching , we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with our answers in this article to help food business operators adopt the practice of menu labeling in a self-compliant manner.

Please note that these FAQs are based on our understanding of the law and should in no way be taken as legal or professional advice or an endorsement of any industry practice.

Q. What is the new menu labeling requirement?

A. Due to an amendment to the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2011 in August 2020, a new sub-regulation (2.4.6.), namely “Display of information in establishments catering” has been inserted for the existing regulation 2.4 setting out specific requirements/restrictions on the method of labelling. This sub-regulation mandates the declaration of calorie information for food products among other specific labeling proclamations. This sub-regulation introduced India to the concept of menu labeling in line with the emerging global trend to reshape conventional food systems.

Q. Who does the menu labeling requirement apply to?

A. The menu labeling requirement applies to catering establishments with either a central license or outlets with 10 or more locations. However, catering establishments operating for a period of less than sixty days in a calendar year (consecutively or not) are exempt from the menu labeling requirement, whether they hold a central license or have outlets in 10 or more locations.

Q. Which restaurants are affected by the menu labeling requirement?

A. Restaurants with turnover above Rs. 20 Crores per annum or outlets with 10 or more locations must ensure compliance with the menu labeling requirement.

Q. Do caterers also have to comply with the menu labeling requirement?

A. Yes. Caterers with turnover above Rs. 20 crore per annum or outlets with 10 or more locations must comply with the menu labeling requirement. However, event caterers operating for a period of less than sixty days in a calendar year (consecutively or not) are exempt from the labeling requirement.

Q. Do the departmental canteens located on the premises of State institutions also have to declare the information on their menu?

A. Yes. Departmental canteens in the premises of central government institutions with a turnover above Rs. 12 lacs per year are mandated to comply with the menu labeling requirement.

Q. Do catering establishments involved in preparing and serving food at airports/seaports also have to comply with the menu labeling requirement?

A. Yes. Food service establishments involved in preparing and serving food at airports/seaports must comply with the menu labeling requirement.

Q. Are restaurants/caterers/canteens on station premises also required to comply with the menu labeling requirement?

A. Yes. Restaurants/Caterers/Canteens at the premises of Railway Stations serving food items via menu card/board/menu booklet and having a turnover of more than Rs. 12 lacs per annum must comply with the requirement of menu labeling.

Q. Are food delivery platforms also required to comply with the menu labeling requirement?

A. Yes. The menu labeling requirement applies to all e-commerce food business operators to the extent that it applies to physical food establishments, i.e. e-commerce food business operators must display mandatory declarations on their website/platform only for food products originating from these establishments. establishments that have a central license or outlets with 10 or more locations. The e-commerce food business operator may either obtain this information directly from the respective food business operators and update it on their online platforms, or implement functionality on their web and/or mobile applications that allows such restaurant chains to upload and display the same information for each food offered for sale by the restaurant on the online food retailer’s platform.

Q. Does the menu labeling requirement also apply to foods that are not on the food service establishment’s menu?

A. No. The menu labeling mandate does not apply to special order items or modified meals that are not on the menu of food service establishments. The menu labeling mandate also does not apply to self-serve condiments that are free and not listed on the menu. In addition, menu items prepared according to the customer’s request will also not be subject to a menu label, regardless of the mode and mode of sale.

Q. What statements must be listed next to foods on the menu card in accordance with the menu labeling requirement?

A. The following information must be declared for foods displayed on catering establishment menu cards/boards/booklets in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Regulations:

  • Calorie value (in kcal per serving and serving size) including reference information on caloric needs to be specified verbatim as “an average active adult needs 2000 kcal of energy per day, however calorie needs may vary “
  • Allergen Information
  • Logo for vegetarian or non vegetarian
  • Nutrition information
  • Information relating to organic foods or ingredients, if claimed
  • Specific labeling requirements imposed by the Regulations for food products containing added monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, polyols, polydextrose and vegetable stanol esters

Q. How can a food business operator determine the nutritional value of foods displayed on their menu?

A. Information on calories and nutritional value of food products can be determined by food service establishments either through laboratory testing and nutrient analysis method or by manual calculation using the nutrient/calorie values ​​of each ingredients provided by a credible scientifically backed organization. The source. In the latter case, the food business operator will be required to retain physical or electronic documents/records of all sources relied upon to determine the nutritional value of foodstuffs for the purpose of verification by safety officers. food safety, as required. On the other hand, the method of laboratory testing and nutrient analysis is generally adopted by restaurant chains that prepare standardized food products with standardized ingredients and recipes at their outlets.

Q. What happens if the nutrient value determined by a food business operator is not entirely accurate?

A. A deviation of up to twenty-five percent is permitted by the regulator.

Q. What is the purpose behind mandating the menu labeling requirement?

A. The purpose behind the introduction of the menu labeling mandate is to enable consumers to make informed choices about their food purchases and to promote public health.

Q. Is there a penalty for not complying with the menu labeling requirement?

A. Yes. Any non-compliance with the menu labeling requirement may initially result in an improvement notice from the designated officer under section 32 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, ordering conformity. If the food business operator does not comply with an improvement notice, its authorization may be suspended or even canceled if the non-compliance with the improvement notice persists.