The Oregon Restaurant Association (ORA) yesterday announced a partnership with FoodCalc, makers of an online tool, MenuCalc, which instantly calculates the nutritional profile of recipes.

MenuCalc will provide ORA members with an exclusive discount of 10 percent off already low prices for nutrition analysis and regulatory compliance services.

Oregon is the second state in the U.S. to pass menu-labeling legislation setting standards for the disclosure of caloric information. House Bill 2726 requires that chain restaurants with 15 or more locations provide nutritional information to diners. Effective January 1, 2010, brochures detailing calorie content, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium must be made available upon customer request. Effective January 1, 2011, this nutrition information must be prominently displayed on menus, menu boards and food display tags.

Even smaller independent restaurants unaffected by the new law are facing strong pressure to offer nutrition data, as a result of growing consumer health-consciousness. Three in four adults say they try to eat better now at restaurants than they did two years ago, according to the National Restaurant Association’s Industry Forecast for 2009. Therefore, many savvy independent restaurants are proactively adopting menu labeling and introducing lighter, healthier dishes to help achieve a competitive advantage in a tough economic climate, build consumer loyalty, and profit from the $35 billion-dollar diet industry.

Although menu labeling has historically been unworkable for many restaurants due to the high costs of laboratories and consultants and the complexity of nutrition CD-ROMs, MenuCalc provides a time-efficient, economical solution.

“The ORA has worked hard to identify the best possible menu labeling solution for our members,” says Steve McCoid, ORA president and CEO.

“FoodCalc’s MenuCalc product is affordable, easy to use and offers access to trained registered dietitians. In addition, our members will benefit from exclusive value-oriented discounts that are particularly helpful in this challenging economy.”

“Menu labeling is the most powerful trend in the restaurant industry, with health-minded diners frequently taking the initiative to contact restaurants to inquire about wholesome ingredients, high-quality dishes and nutrition data,” says Lucy Needham, president and CEO, FoodCalc.

“MenuCalc, our cost-effective and cutting-edge nutritional analysis solution, makes it practicable for restaurants of all sizes to offer these essential facts to their customers. We are proud to partner with the ORA to help deliver outstanding value to its members.”

The MenuCalc product offers two unique solutions for restaurants. Both generate instant results that can be customized and exported into programs like Microsoft Word and Excel. Completed nutrition data can be printed, emailed, and shared via brochures, menus, and Web sites.

In addition, MenuCalc offers Consultancy Services for all restaurants that wish to benefit from their expertise in labeling and menu display compliance (staff is certified to support FDA labeling inquires), nutrition analysis and ingredient projects beyond the paid plan. The consultancy rate is $90 an hour and does not include the ORA member discount.

Multiunit restaurants that have signed up for MenuCalc’s nutrition analysis include Eugene, Oregon-based Abby’s Legendary Pizza; Bend, Oregon-based Croutons Inc.; Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse; Indianapolis-based Steak ‘n Shake; St Louis Park-based Granite City Food & Brewery; and San Francisco-based Specialty’s Café and Bakery.

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