Using technology to comply with menu-labeling legislation
By John Wood, Founder of Kitchen Cut, an online kitchen management system
The FDA's May 5 deadline requiring chain restaurants in the US to feature calorie counts on menus and literature is almost here. That alone is a huge challenge, but businesses have the added stress of having to substantiate the information to the government, including the method and data used to derive the values. They must certify that the evidence is complete and that all has been done to present the customer with accurate information. (The law applies to brands that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type foods.)
While it may seem impossible, nutrient values can be determined by using nutrient databases, cookbooks, laboratory analyses and the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged foods. It demands a huge level of time, effort and resource from members of staff, who could be adding value to the business instead.
I believe that the solution is to embrace an online kitchen management system that does all the hard work for you, relieving the huge amount of pressure that is placed on operational resources that could and should be better spent on increasing business profitability. There is simple and intuitive software out there that provides access to calorie counts and nutritional information at the click of a button, empowering the industry to tackle the new legislation head on. The right online system will also link all this information directly to both websites and digital signage thus making a cost saving by taking away the need for printing or reprinting.
By easing the administrative requirements of the new legislation, members of staff will have more time to concentrate on adding value to the business, focusing on increased profitability through creativity and innovation, customer engagement, training and development and man management.
There is even potential for companies to turn this new legislative burden into an advantage. By embracing online kitchen management systems, businesses will not only swiftly comply with the new legislation, but they will also experience a wide array of additional benefits such as greater levels of consistency, easy control of costs and waste management, and even the tracking of allergens from ingredients right through to dishes and menus.
Our industry is bursting with innovation in technology for front-of-house: payment systems, loyalty CRMs, customer ordering and so much more. This new legislation puts a spotlight on how back-of-house has been largely neglected.