Obligations for Franchisors in the Food Industry:
The Franchise Attorney is Watching Out for You!
Michael S. Rosenthal is the franchise attorney we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks, who is most assuredly the ‘perfect mind’ for franchisors. By utilizing his extensive knowledge when it comes to franchise law, more and more businesses are getting their questions answered precisely, correctly and quickly. (That sure is new!) Not to mention, Dog, the Bounty Hunter, will NEVER be at your restaurant’s door when Mike is on your side.
This week, Mike wanted to make sure that all franchises in the restaurant/food industry know all about the ‘hidden requirements’ that were placed on food providers by the Healthcare Bill. Like the majority of political documents, there are rules and regulations that are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, signed into law back in 2010, that franchisors need to know.
With the good comes the…confusing. In this case, a number of provisions are contained in the law that are not directly related to its primary purpose. With most Americans still more than a bit confused or uninformed – which is completely understandable, considering that these add-on’s are a bit “removed” from the original purposes of the law – they’ll be happy to know that Mike is on it!
One of these provisions is an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which promises to significantly impact restaurant franchises, not to mention vending machine operators.
In an effort to help all of us improve our dietary choices in order to make us all healthier, this amendment places new requirements on the types of nutritional information that businesses must provide, not to mention the ways they have to present this information. The amendment specifically targets food establishments that are part of a chain of twenty or more locations (as well as people who operate twenty or more vending machines.) These groups must now clearly and conspicuously display the number of calories contained in all standard and some non-standard food items sold. Most all of you have seen this on the McDonalds’ boards which are now full of this information. And, yes, although that’s perhaps not a good dietary choice – come on! It’s McDonald’s! Turning our backs on the Big Mac is a lot like being un-American (I know, I know, it’s bad for you, still…)
Moving on…the suggested caloric intake of a daily diet must be given. From standard menu items to ‘specials’ or temporary items that appear on the menu for at least 60 days out of the calendar year; all the way to items that are part of ‘market testing’ that will appear on the menu for at least 90 days out of the calendar year. Food items sold from a vending machine that does not provide visible nutrition information at the point of purchase is also a huge no-no. (Again, Baby Ruth is all-American, people. Yes, you need that nutrition information, but sneaking one on a very bad day is a must!)
Number of calories (and sometimes you REALLY don’t want to know) is data that a restaurant needs to display prominently on menus and menu boards where the item appears; also on signs placed adjacent to any self-service food or beverages, and on signs in close proximity to any vending machine.
Suggested daily caloric intake must also be clearly provided in a succinct statement on all menus and menu boards; and written nutritional information must be available on the premises, as well as upon request. In addition, a statement regarding the availability of such written information must be prominently displayed on all menus and menu boards, too.
Again, these are issues that franchises NEED to be aware of in order to run their business legally. This is one amendment that imposes significant legal obligations on franchise restaurants and vending machine operators. And, yes, as with all laws, the parameters of this will be a topic of conversation for many years to come. But while they argue on ‘The Hill’ – a franchise must do the extra work and be highly aware of all the twists and turns when it comes to franchise law!
How do you keep everything straight? Mike Rosenthal. The fact that he loves to work with start-up franchisors is a ‘gift’ in this business world that is increasingly going into franchise-mode. Mike is always thinking about the best ways to help franchisors and their franchisees improve, expand and succeed…AND, most definitely, obey the law!
For more information go to: