Nutritional information on menus – New York, USA

Key Insights

  • Nutrition information on menus
  • Enabling informed food decisions
  • Promoting healthy out-of-home eating


The city of New York has a high incidence of overweight and obesity, and a strong culture of out-of-home eating. In 2015 an update to the NYC Health Code came into force, under which all food service outlets must keep nutritional details for menu items and display information on optimal calorie intake. Some chain restaurants must also include calorie information on the menus themselves. The aim is to enable diners to make informed decisions about the food they choose.


This case study version is from the Menu of Actions (2019). Suggested citation: Halliday, J., Platenkamp, L., Nicolarea, Y. (2019) A menu of actions to shape urban food systems for improved nutrition, GAIN, MUFPP and RUAF.

Restaurants in New York, Shutterstock/Kristi Blokhin

The action and its aims

New York updated the NYC Health Code (Article 81) to require all food service establishments to keep full nutritional information for menu items on site and to provide it to customers on request. They must also display information on optimal calorie intake. Establishments with a Health Department permit and over 15 locations in the US must also include calorie information on menus. The aim is to help consumers to make informed decisions on the food they eat.

When it was introduced

The requirement was agreed in 2015 and came into effect in May 2017. It is an update of a 2008 amendment that required only chain restaurants to display calorie information, which was superseded at the federal level under the 2010 Affordable Care Act and implemented by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

Why it was needed

The amendments (both the original and the update) were considered necessary due to high incidence of obesity and overweight in New York, and a strong culture of out-of-home eating.

Who initiated it, who is involved

The requirement was introduced by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio. It is enforced by the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs, which can issue Notices of Violations that are subject to fines of between USD200 and USD600. The Department of Health carried out education of food service establishments, and will review menu mock-ups to ensure compliance on request (submission is optional).

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