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For weeks I have wanted to write this blog; the one that lets you know options and choices for finally getting menu nutritional information on your menu/from your recipes and where to turn. Certainly, I will miss some of the choices out there, but my intention is to share options and let you pick for yourself.   

If you are a restaurant that has already completed this task good job! Might I suggest you still read on to discover some new and exciting areas menu labeling is assisting with other menu needs in any restaurant.   

Database Software: Either purchase a full program or a service and you train yourself or one of your staff to handle this task. There are many websites out there where, in my opinion, if you want to go this route, go for the free software to accomplish it. Costs: Software from $600 to $6,000 Software as a Service from $29/month to $4/recipe.

Pro

Con

Least expensive option

Time and effort to complete the task

Freedom to complete the task at your pace

Source all your own ingredients not in database

Can change recipe on the fly

Error and omission liability rest on you

Database Service Solution: Use one of a handful of companies who will take your recipe, input it into a database and work with you on the results. The three businesses I know of that do this service currently are able to assist and offer advice for menu changes based on in house nutritionists and dieticians recommendations. Costs: Service between $9 to $160 per menu item.

Pro

Con

Managed by professional (Dieticians &Nutritionist)

Costs slightly more

Complete and verified recipes and products

Requires organization of your recipes

Liability the responsibility of the service      

Need to work together to adjust recipe

Register Dietician: Hire and retain a registered dietician or a nutritionist either as an employee or as a contractor to complete and/or manage this task. You can find independent qualified talent in every city in each state. Costs: The most expensive on the non-laboratory option can be between $150 to $400/menu item.

Pro

Con

Completed task with large amounts of hands on

Costs are much higher. 

Liability the responsibility of the service      

Fewer client experiences generally

Experience of a Register Dietician

Fewer report options of information

Laboratory Analysis: This is the best method for food analysis; however, it is by far the most expensive and also not required by the USDA or the FDA. This takes each and every recipe, including sub recipe into a lab setting and analyses them. Costs: Labs start at $300/recipe.

Final thoughts: Pay close attention to services that are working to assist restaurants in allergen identification, suggestions and creation of specialty menus such as gluten-free, healthy dining options, as well as concerns over the Big 8 allergens are the next logical step to good menu labeling.  

Finally, continue maintenance of this information as it will be needed. There is verification of supply chain and product manufacture changes or recipe alterations, and any changes in sourcing a product all play an important role in the analysis. Semi-annual checks or at least yearly checks will become a necessity in the future. 

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Menu Labeling, Food Allergies and Gluten Free

Latest posts by Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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