WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filed a pre-publication version of an interim final rule that extends the compliance date of the agency’s final menu-labeling rule until May 7, 2018. In addition to the delay, FDA requests 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. The interim final rule is scheduled to be published on May 4, and comments will be due 60 days later (July 3, 2017).
“Retailers with many different and diverse business models have raised concerns about how the rule lacks flexibility to permit them to provide meaningful nutrition information to consumers given their type of business and different operations,” the interim final rule states. “We have decided to extend the compliance date. The additional time will allow us to consider what opportunities there may be to address these fundamental and complex questions….”
Initially released on November 25, 2014, the regulations established menu-labeling requirements for chain restaurants and “similar retail food establishments.” Generally, 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, as well as provide additional written nutrition information to consumers upon request.
Earlier this month, NACS and the National Grocers Association submitted a petition to the FDA—which the agency specifically referenced in the interim final rule—asking the FDA to delay the final rule’s effective date.
The FDA’s regulations add unfair costs and compliance barriers to establishments with offerings that do not appear on a centralized “menu” board, and establishments that may have multiple coffee, frozen drink and food islands as opposed to the central ordering point in a traditional fast-food restaurant. The regulations also place a store or restaurant at risk for criminal penalties if it gives some customers larger servings than they expected based on the calorie information provided.
NACS applauds the delay and will submit comments on the interim final rule. NACS also will continue to support legislation introduced in both the previous and current Congress, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R 772/S. 261), which would provide a more practical and flexible approach among the various foodservice and retail establishments affected by the menu-labeling rule.
NACS will continue to work with Congress and the administration to help ensure that the rules are revised so that they work for everyone.