FDA to Provide Additional Guidance on Menu Labeling Requirements

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Aug 29, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration, Washington, says it will provide additional guidance on menu labeling requirements by the end of the year after receiving solicited feedback.

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., the FDA commissioner, said on Aug. 25 that the guidance applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type foods.

"I am pleased to announce that we will provide additional, practical guidance on the menu labeling requirements by the end of this year," Gottlieb said. "This additional guidance will address concerns that were raised about challenges establishments faced in understanding how to meet their obligations under the new regulations. We have been diligently working to address the comments we received and to establish a sustainable framework for enabling establishments to effectively meet the new menu labeling provisions. These new policy steps should allow covered establishments to implement the requirements by next year’s compliance date."

The compliance date for the new menu labeling rules is May 7, 2018. The rules cover calories and nutrient content for standard menu items.

"Americans should not have to navigate variable information about the foods they eat when traveling from state to state—or city to city," he added. "Inconsistent state and local requirements may also drive up the cost of food, and sow confusion, by requiring restaurants and other covered establishments to post different information based on location. We take seriously our obligation to consumers; to make sure they have access to useful menu labeling information in a simple and timely manner. We also share Congress’s goal in enacting these labeling provisions: to ensure that calorie and nutrition information is delivered in a clear, consistent and predictable way. Similarly, we recognize our obligation to provide clear guidance so that restaurants and other establishments that are subject to these provisions have clarity and certainty as to how they can efficiently meet the new menu labeling requirements."

The agency issued regulations addressing what information should be provided in menus at restaurant chains and other similar retail establishments, as well as when and how that information should be provided. "In developing the regulations, we were informed by thousands of comments from consumers, industry representatives and other interested parties, along with many meetings and discussions with stakeholders," Gottleib said. "Earlier this year, we solicited another round of feedback on our regulation, which helped to further inform our approach to implementing the menu labeling provisions."

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