Dec 28, 2016 | EcoSure Food Safety Monitor

By Miriam Eisenberg, MS, RD, CP-FS

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  7. FDA Aligns Menu-Labeling Compliance and Enforcement

The menu labeling law was part of the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010. This law requires restaurants and foodservice businesses with 20 or more locations nationally operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items to post calorie information for standard menu items and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request.

The dates of compliance and enforcement of the regulation has been fraught with difficulties and delays. It was expected to begin Dec. 1, 2015, but was delayed twice. In December 2015, Congress directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to push the law’s enforcement date until one year after the agency published final guidance. That final guidance was published May 5, 2016. There was confusion because at some point, the “compliance” date was December 1, 2016 with the enforcement date of May 5, 2017. I received questions from around the country about when the process of menu nutrition labeling had to be ready. This was interpreted that chains had to be ready with the nutrition information on their labels or other posted requirements but violations would not be leveed until May 2017.

In early December, the Food and Drug Administration published a clarification of the final rule extending the compliance date for the federal government’s menu labeling regulation to May 5, 2017. The extension now aligns the compliance date with the regulation’s enforcement date.

The National Restaurant Association applauded the FDA for clarifying its decision to align the dates. “(The) announcement by the FDA gives the foodservice industry the time it needs to empower its customers to make the best choices for themselves,” said Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of government affairs and policy. “We have long advocated for a nationwide federal menu labeling standard that gives customers access to uniform nutritional information at restaurants, and that provides certainty to restaurateurs and foodservice operators over the patchwork of state and local laws.” 

Read the FDA’s full announcement: FDA Aligns Menu Labeling Compliance Date with the Enforcement Date.