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Foodservice 201: Intermediate Insights

As consumers come to expect access to restaurant food calorie counts, pressure will mount on c-stores with foodservice programs to follow suit. As is true with most government regulation, it's better to get out in front of it than wait for rules to be mandated.

Intermediate foodservice operators should be working on nutrition and menu labeling for their foodservice programs, if they are not already. The good news is there are several tools available to help make the task less onerous and keep information consistent from store to store.

State-of-the art software and programmed labeling machines are available that create labels with complete nutritional information for all items prepared in-store.

Experts say these systems are easy to use — as simple as tapping the screen, selecting the item and printing the labels. All the information comes from one central source (typically headquarters) to ensure consistency and uniformity of information from store to store.

Programmed labeling machines cost approximately $2,000 per store, depending on the number of stores and the number of pieces of equipment purchased.

A key challenge is managing various local and regional menu labeling regulations that could go beyond FDA regulations. To avoid having to use different programs and information for different stores, experts recommend using the most stringent and detailed regulations for the chain's software program. This allows all the stores to be uniform and makes the program easier to manage, instead of trying to manage each store based on local and regional regulatory standards.

And, of course, these support systems are useless if menu and product ingredients, recipes and in-store preparation are not consistent throughout the chain. If any change is made to a recipe, the change has to be recorded in the software system so that nutrition labels remain current.

Operators who are reengineering their menus to offer items that are less calorie- and fat-dense will also need to test the new recipes with consumers before rolling them out, which is an added cost, but an important step that should not be skipped to ensure acceptance of new recipes so that loyal customers are not lost.


  • State-of-the art software and labeling machines create labels with complete nutritional information for all items prepared in-store.
  • Manage information for your packaging and menu boards using one method and one program, and manage it from one central source.
  • Stay on top of regional and local nutrition labeling regulations to ensure the most stringent standards are use in the centralized information database.

"My philosophy has been to not look at this as a regulation, but view this as an opportunity to fulfill a gap and be proactive."

— Paul Pierce, 7-Eleven Inc. (formerly)

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