FDA delays menu-labeling rule until Dec. 1, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced July 9 that it was delaying the effective date for the federal menu-labeling regulation for chain restaurants and covered grocery stores for one year. The FDA originally set Dec. 1, 2015, as the compliance date but has moved compliance to Dec. 1, 2016. The one-year delay is in response to requests and in order to further clarify the rule’s requirements. The formal notice was posted July 10 on the Federal Register.  A guide document is expected sometime in August.

From the National Restaurant Association:

  • Who’s covered: The regulations apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items. Smaller restaurants can choose to comply voluntarily. The law requires covered establishments to post calories for standard menu items, and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request.
  • What’s next: The FDA is preparing additional guidance to help restaurateurs and other covered establishments understand how to implement the law. The agency released extensive regulations last November but significant questions remain. The agency is expected to release more guidance later this summer.

In a statement the National Grocers Association said concerns about the rule’s implementation continue and expressed support for H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015. The Food Marketing Institute also expressed support for H.R. 2017.  Read the supermarket industry concerns about the regulation.

From the FDA Statement on the Compliance Date Extension:

  • Since the FDA issued the menu labeling final rule on December 1, 2014, the agency has had extensive dialogue with chain restaurants, covered grocery stores and other covered businesses, and answered numerous questions on how the rule can be implemented in specific situations. Industry, trade and other associations, including the grocery industry, have asked for an additional year to comply with the menu labeling final rule, beyond the original December 2015 compliance date. The FDA agrees additional time is necessary for the agency to provide further clarifying guidance to help facilitate efficient compliance across all covered businesses and for covered establishments to come into compliance with the final rule.
  • … The FDA plans to issue in August 2015 a draft guidance document that provides answers to some of the more frequently asked and crosscutting questions that the agency has received to further assist covered establishments in complying with the rule. This guidance document will be labeled “draft” to reflect the FDA’s openness to further comments and dialogue and to expanding the guidance as new questions arise. The FDA encourages companies to consider the information in the August guidance as they prepare to comply by December 2016.