Healthy Bites Sampling
National Menu Labeling (NML) Law
Now that the semester is nearly over, our responsibilities at UK Dining are shifting from student outreach into preparing nutrition information for nine restaurants on UK's campus. This has been a particularly interesting challenge that has proven to teach me quite a lot.
Throughout my education, the topic of providing nutrition information on restaurant menus has been brought up in various lectures, however we never had the opportunity to learn exactly what the requirement entails. All of the details are described, to great extent, in the National Menu Labeling (NML) law and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aramark must provide nutrition information for every product from every campus restaurant, and if they do not comply there is a massive penalty of $100,000.
No pressure though :)
Without going into too much detail, the NML law requires companies that have 20 or more locations to report certain nutrition information for standard menu items. Standard menu items are those that are offered at all times, and does not include limited time offers or specials. The nutrition label must include 11 nutrients, including calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, total carbohydrates, sugar, and protein. These numbers must be rounded according to specific instructions, which are laid out within the legislation. Luckily, I enjoy dealing with numbers and have found it rather satisfying to calculate these totals. It feels good to finally be able to assess tangible fruits of my labor.
The numbers are the easy part, however, and collaborating with restaurant managers to obtain specific information about product recipes has been rather challenging thus far. Managers are oftentimes over-worked and do not always understand or appreciate the nature of our duties, let alone care about the severity of the consequences if this is not done well or in a timely manner. Attempting to find a sliver of time in their jam-packed workdays has been rough, and getting specific information about recipes has been somewhat synonymous of pulling teeth. From their perspective, a hamburger bun is a hamburger bun and it does not make a difference if it comes from Klosterman's or Sara Lee. We have been attempting to convey that nutrition is not the same just because the product looks the same across different brands. Not all buns are created equal!
Thus far, we have almost finished calculating the summer menu for Ovid's, and are beginning to move on to other restaurants. The spreadsheet we have started is filling up fast and it is satisfying to watch it grow.
CRD 1.1 Select indicators of program quality and/or customer service and measure achievement of objectives. (Tip: Outcomes may include clinical, programmatic, quality, productivity, economic or other outcomes in wellness, management, sports, clinical settings, etc.)
CRD 1.4 Evaluate emerging research for application in dietetics practice.
CRD 2.1 Practice in compliance with current federal regulations and state statutes and rules, as applicable and in accordance with accreditation standards and the Scope of Dietetics Practice and Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics.
CRD 2.2 Demonstrate professional writing skills in preparing professional communications. (Tip: Examples include research manuscripts, project proposals, education materials, policies and procedures.)
CRD 2.5 Demonstrate active participation, teamwork and contributions in group settings.
CRD 2.8 Apply leadership principles to achieve desired outcomes.
CRD 2.10 Establish collaborative relationships with other health professionals and support personnel to deliver effective nutrition services. (Tip: Other health professionals include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, diabetes educators, health educators, etc.)
CRD 2.11 Demonstrate professional attributes within various organizational cultures. (Tip: Professional attributes include showing initiative and proactively developing solutions, advocacy, customer focus, risk taking, critical thinking, flexibility, time management, work prioritization and work ethic.)
CRD 2.13 Demonstrate negotiation skills.
CRD 4.6 Prepare and analyze quality, financial or productivity data and develops a plan for intervention.
CRD 4.7 Propose and use procedures as appropriate to the practice setting to reduce waste and protect the environment.
CRD 4.8 Conduct feasibility studies for products, programs or services with consideration of costs and benefits.