Food service (US English) or catering industry (British English) defines those businesses, institutions, and companies responsible for any meal prepared outside the home. This industry includes restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, and many other formats.
The companies that supply foodservice operators are called foodservice distributors. Foodservice distributors sell goods like small wares (kitchen utensils) and foods. Some companies manufacture products in both consumer and foodservice versions. The consumer version usually comes in individual-sized packages with elaborate label design for retail sale. The foodservice version is packaged in a much larger industrial size and often lacks the colorful label designs of the consumer version.Foodservice tends to be, on average, higher in calories and lower in key nutrients than foods prepared at home. Most restaurants, including fast food, have added more salads and fruit offerings and either by choice or in response to local legislation provided nutrition labeling.
In the US the FDA is moving towards establishing uniform guidelines for fast food and restaurant labeling, proposed rules were published in 2011 and final regulations published on 1 December 2014 which supersede State and local menu-labeling provisions, going into effect 1 December 2015. Research has shown that the new labels may influence consumer choices, but primarily if it provides unexpected information and that health-conscious consumers are resistant to changing behaviors based on menu labeling Fast food restaurants are expected by the ERS to do better under the new menu labeling than full service restaurants as full-service restaurants tend to offer much more calorie dense foods, with 50% of fast food meals being between 400 and 800 calories and less than 20% above 1000 calories, in contrast, full-service restaurants 20% of meals are above 1,400 calories. When consumers are aware of the calorie counts at full-service restaurants 20% choose lower calorie options and consumers also reduce their calorie intake over the rest of the day.