Menu Labeling

Last Updated: May 19, 2024

The Issue

On November 25, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final rule establishing menu-labeling requirements for chain restaurants and “similar retail food establishments.” After two previous delays in enforcement, on May 1, 2017, the FDA announced that the rule would be further delayed until May 7, 2018. In addition to the delay, FDA requested comments on how the agency may reduce the regulatory burden on retailers and alternative approaches for labeling self-service foods, other methods for providing calorie disclosure other than on the menu itself, and criteria for distinguishing between a menu and other information such as an advertisement.

Generally, under the existing rule, establishments that are covered by the rule must post calories for standard menu items on menus or menu boards or, for self-service items and foods on display, on signs adjacent to the items. They also will be required to provide additional written nutrition information to consumers upon request.

Even with the delay, problems with the FDA's menu-labeling rule remain. In the 115th Congress, Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA) introduced H.R. 772, and Senators Blunt (R-MO) and King (I-ME) introduced S. 261, both called the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, to amend the regulations and make compliance possible. Enactment of H.R. 772/S. 261 would result in consumers gaining more nutrition information and a greater amount of choices.

On February 6, 2018, the House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 772 with a strong bipartisan vote of 266 to 157. Unfortunately, the Senate never considered the legislation. For more information on menu labeling, see these resources:

Retail Impact

Many in the industry have their own foodservice business or partner with other chains. A new uniform standard for the industry can be a positive development, but it must allow for sufficient flexibility to allow non-chain restaurants to comply. Otherwise, the FDA’s menu-labeling rule will subject many convenience stores to unnecessary and burdensome regulatory obligations.

NACS Position

NACS continues to work with Congress and the FDA to amend the rule.