Florida commissioner thinks QR codes could replace paper restaurant menus

QR codes - Traditional restaurant paper menu

A Eileen Higgins (Miami-Dade) thinks there is no reason to require restaurants to have physical menus.

A commissioner from Miami-Dade is currently seeking to change the Florida law that requires restaurants to have a physical menu, allowing them to use QR codes and other digital options instead.

Florida restaurants must all provide a physical copy of their menu to patrons in all their locations.

Commissioner Eileen Higgins is seeking to change that law. Throughout the pandemic, the use of QR codes skyrocketed. They became very popular in restaurants, which made it possible for their patrons to scan a barcode and read the menu options on their own mobile devices instead of having to touch printed menus, risking the spread of germs. While seeking contactless options, diners became quite comfortable using the barcodes for this purpose, among many others.

QR codes - online menu via QR code scan

Higgins is now hoping to enact local rules that will make it possible to offer printed menus to customers who prefer them to a phone screen, but removes the requirement that every person who wants food needs to be handed a menu. According to Higgins, in this way, the barcodes, which are already regularly used, will serve the majority of the population that is comfortable simply scanning and using a smartphone but will still be inclusive for people who are less likely to want to use screens, such as children and the elderly.

QR codes aren’t for everyone, but they could help to reduce the number of printed menus needed.

Florida currently prohibits local governments from regulating food marketing at restaurants. The legislation Higgins is proposing asks lawmakers to change that law. This way, she will be able to allow restaurants in Miami-Dade to be able to choose whether they want to use printed menus for every customer or if they would like to provide digital alternatives instead.

According to Higgins, there are advantages to printing fewer menus and using QR codes instead. For one thing, she pointed out that sanitation is a considerable advantage. Using barcodes and a diner’s own device to read a menu instead of a shared menu means that a physical object isn’t being handed around among staff members and diners each day. Furthermore, the barcodes make it easier to reduce the amount of paper and laminating plastic used to produce menus if fewer are needed. Moreover, restaurants can change the items they offer more easily when the menu can be digitally edited instead of having to correct a printed page.

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