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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Nutrition labeling in King County

Information for the general public
Nutrition labels are taking the guesswork out of making healthier choices when eating out. While it's probably no surprise that a bacon double cheeseburger isn't the healthiest item on the menu, it may come as a shock that items like salads and smoothies can be even higher in saturated fat and calories. How many of us would guess that a chicken caesar salad could have more than 800 calories? That's more calories than a 6-inch steak and cheese sub sandwich.
Information for industry

The King County Board of Health's nutrition labeling regulation requires some chain food restaurants permitted by Public Health - Seattle & King County to provide calorie, saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium information to customers. Only calorie information is required on menu boards of quick-service restaurants with all other information available at the point of ordering in a flyer, pamphlet, or other approved method. Full-service restaurants must include all information on menus or other approved alternative method.

The regulation applies only to chain restaurants that:

  • Are one of 15 or more national locations
  • Doing business under the same name (regardless of ownership)
  • Have 80% or more of substantially the same standard menu items at 15 or more restaurants
  • All together make $1 million annually
  • Are located within another business that may or may not be subject to the regulation, such as chain restaurants within a grocery store

Posting information

Chain restaurants with a menu board (overhead menu) are required to post only the number of calories.

Restaurants may choose instead to use one of the following approved alternative methods to provide nutrition information:

  • A sign adjacent to the menu board
  • A sign in queue (line)

The remaining nutrition information (saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium) must be clearly visible and available in a pamphlet, brochure, poster or other format at the point of ordering.

Chain restaurants with menus must provide customers with nutrition information for each standard item on the menu in at least nine-point font and similar to other typeface on the menu, such as the price.

Restaurants may choose to use one of the following approved alternative methods to provide nutrition information at the point of ordering:

  • Menu insert
  • Menu appendix
  • Supplemental menu
  • Electronic kiosk

If using an approved alternative, restaurants must state on each page of the menu where the nutrition information is located. For example, "Nutrition information is available in the appendix at the back of the menu."

All printed material must include the following dietary statement: "The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting saturated fat to 20 grams and sodium to 2,300 milligrams for a typical adult eating 2,000 calories daily. Recommended limits may be higher or lower depending upon daily calorie consumption."

see also
The Online NewsHour

Nutrition menu labeling in King County featured on PBS/The NewsHour.

On January 14, 2008, PBS/The NewsHour aired a news story on nutrition menu labeling in King County. See the segment, "Bid to print nutrition facts on menus raises debate."