Members of the National Restaurant Association now have access to a best-in-class suite of nutrition-analysis providers at discounted rates to help them plan and enhance their menus. The Association partnered with FoodCALC, Healthy Dining, and Silliker to offer valuable, personalized services to restaurants of all types.

“Restaurateurs have an increasing interest in obtaining accurate nutrition information of the dishes they serve, but the analysis process has presented challenges,” says David Gilbert, chief operating officer of the National Restaurant Association. “With the new law on nutrition disclosure in effect for certain restaurants, it has become imperative to find solutions to those challenges. That is why we partnered with the best nutrition-analysis providers in the business to meet our members’ needs for customized service at affordable rates.”

Because different types of restaurants have unique needs when it comes to nutrition analysis of menu items, the National Restaurant Association partnered with three providers that offer distinct forms of analysis: MenuCalc, Healthy Dining, and Silliker.

MenuCalc, a FoodCALC product, is a Web-based recipe nutrition-analysis software solution exclusively designed for restaurant operators that provides easy-to-use, low-cost options based on individual needs. With 24/7 secure access for multiple users, MenuCalc is backed by a staff of registered dietitians and technology experts and live support.

Healthy Dining offers a team of masters-level nutrition professionals, registered dietitians, and a doctoral-level researcher to provide nutrition consultation and analysis services. Services include nutrient analysis (calories, fat, sodium, etc.), allergen declaration, development of gluten-free menus, and guidance in complying with menu labeling legislation.

Silliker offers expert laboratory, technical, and information services to help companies comply with menu-labeling requirements. The company’s chemists and research and development professionals can help substantiate nutrition claims, and address analytical challenges posed by variables in menu item preparation.

On March 23, President Obama signed into law the health care reform bill, which includes a provision that creates a national, uniform nutrition-disclosure standard for restaurants. The provision requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to provide specific nutrition labeling information. Those restaurants must post calories on menus, menuboards, and drive-thru boards. Buffets, salad bars, and other self-service items are also included and will be required to provide caloric information adjacent to the item. Establishments must also provide additional nutrition information in writing (e.g., a brochure) upon request. This additional written information includes calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, and protein.

While the law took effect when the bill was signed, mandatory requirements aren’t expected to take effect until after FDA finalizes regulations telling restaurateurs how to comply. The FDA has until March 23, 2011, to propose implementing regulations, followed by a public comment period, and then the issuance of the final rule.

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