FDA Menu-Labeling Rule


Update:
FDA Delays Menu Labeling Rule Until May 7, 2018

On April 27, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they would delay implementation of the menu-labeling rule until May 7, 2018. The regulations, finalized in 2014 by the agency, call for rigid requirements on menu labeling for food products, which will be very difficult for many convenience stores to comply with, but could subject retailers to potentially harsh penalties if they do not comply.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement on the FDA’s actions to delay the implementation of its proposed Menu Labeling Rule:

"The FDA has made the right decision to delay a rule that would have essentially dictated how every food service establishment in America with more than 20 locations — restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, and more — writes and displays their menus. HHS believes strongly in promoting sound nutrition through public health efforts. Tackling childhood obesity is one of our top three stated clinical priorities. We should do this by helping families gain the information they need to make their own choices. Imposing burdensome rules that leave business managers and owners worried about harsh potential penalties and less able to serve their customers is unwise and unhelpful. Under President Trump, our department will focus on promoting public health in ways that work for American consumers. Toward that end, the FDA is asking for feedback about how to make the Menu Labeling Rule more flexible and less burdensome while still providing useful information to consumers. We look forward to working with all involved to find the right balance."


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slated to begin enforcing the current regulations on menu labeling starting May 5. The regulations, finalized in 2014 by the agency, call for rigid requirements on menu labeling for food products, which will be very difficult for many convenience stores to comply with and could subject retailers to potentially harsh penalties if they do not comply.

Legislation to remedy this situation – HR 772 and S 261 – would provide more sensible modifications to the current menu labeling regulations and institute a more practical and reasonable approach to compliance with these regulations.

While many convenience stores provide packaged food products that already have these menu and nutrition labels, the current FDA regulations would impact some food service items. Specifically, according to the regulations, “calorie and other nutrition labeling will be required for standard menu items offered for sale in a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. A restaurant or similar retail food establishment is generally defined as a retail establishment that offers for sale ‘restaurant type food,’ which is generally food that is usually eaten on the premises, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location.”

Our industry recognizes the importance of menu labeling but is concerned that these regulations do not take into account the vast differences between convenience stores and the restaurant industry. Convenience stores offering a variety of fresh and prepared foods – whether single store operators or chains – may have tremendous differences with respect to store layouts and food service. The one-size-fits-all approach of these regulations will make compliance difficult for many retailers.

Legislative efforts to remedy these concerns are currently being considered in Congress and CDA will report on any new developments with respect to these initiatives. In the meantime, click here for the FDA’s guidance on the implementation and enforcement of the menu-labeling regulations.