Now that the FDA menu labeling law is in in effect, chains of 20 or more serving freshly prepared pizzas will need to comply with the menu labeling guidelines. Though the FDA will be the enforcer for the menu labeling law, your customers, competitors and litigation attorneys will be your biggest threat for filing non-compliance issues.
If you are a franchisee, franchisor or the compliance officer for a chain of convenience and grocery stores, there will be some very obvious non-compliance identifiers that will need to be addressed sooner than later. Since pizza is classified as a multiple serving item, most chain websites and menu boards are reporting the calories by the serving, per each slice of a whole pizza. A very helpful way for consumers to know how many calories are in a slice of pizza. When reporting the calories and nutrition by the slice, the portions need to be consistently cut into equal slices. If not, your customers, competitors and litigation attorneys will have an obvious way to identify improper portioning. Pizzas that are poorly cut into unequal slices can be all the proof the FDA will need to investigate an improper portioning, a non-compliance issue.
In an article written by Betsy Craig, Owner of MenuTrinfo and a nutritionist consultant to the food service industry, published in Fast Casual’s April edition she says, “Did you know that each nutrient has different rounding rules and different insignificant values? And did you know that to a trained eye, it’s really obvious when this isn’t done correctly? Rounding is such an easy thing to watch for, it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s what inspectors hone in on.”
When it comes to the pizza industry, her assessment is spot on. It will be very easy for the FDA to spot pizzas that are poorly cut into very unequal slices. Even the picture for this article is a perfect example of what will likely be cause for the FDA to investigate a complaint. It won’t take a trained eye to see how obvious the calories and nutritional values posted next to the picture are not equal and miserably fails the FDA’s rounding and insignificant vales guidelines. Consider disgruntled customers who may have an axe to grind. All they would need to do is take pictures of your poorly cut pizzas and file a complaint with the FDA. At that point, the FDA will be required to investigate the complaint. What about other pizza franchises that compete with you in your community? Maybe they are following the portioning rules, but notice you are not. It is possible that they will take pictures of your poorly cut pizzas to use as evidence to file a complaint with the FDA against you. Likewise, litigation attorneys have filed class action lawsuits against some food service industry chains for falsely advertising their portioning. An easy path to a false advertising lawsuit could be poorly cut pizzas into unequal slices.
So, what is the solution? Until the menu labeling law became law, the pizza industry really wasn’t too concerned with how equal the slices of pizza were when cut and put into a pizza box. Now, chains of 20 or more who sell freshly prepared pizzas will need to change their thinking. Pizzas will need to be cut into equal slices. By cutting pizzas into equal slices, one of the most obvious way to spot improper portioning will be eliminated. Eliminate the obvious, eliminate expensive violations and fines.
Published by Greg Getzinger, Owner of Nuova Vita Corporation and the Portion PadL. More information about the FDA menu labeling guidelines and Greg can be found at www.portionpadl.com.
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