Included as a provision of the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), the “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants” requirement was intended to provide a uniform standard for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to comply with various state and local menu labeling laws.
On December 1, 2014 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its final rule implementing “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants.” The rule effectively regulates supermarkets as well as supercenters, general merchandise, convenience stores and other non-restaurant establishments under the menu labeling regulations and provides additional guidance on the scope of foods covered, what is considered a “standard menu item” and how calorie information may be displayed for foods that are covered under the rule. In July 2015, FDA extended the compliance date an additional year until December 1, 2016. In September 2015, FDA released “Draft Guidance for Industry,” which addresses a portion of the specific scenarios raised by industry. While we appreciate FDA’s attempts to clarify some of the issues that we have raised with the final rule, the agency’s draft guidance still leaves many unanswered questions.
Simply put, grocery stores are not similar to chain restaurants. Grocers already offer nutrition information under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, and voluntarily provide nutritional guidance with shelf tags and font and back of food packages. Stores also comply with many food safety and labeling laws not applied to restaurants.
The initial cost for grocery stores to comply with menu labeling will exceed an estimated $1 billion, including nutritional analysis, designing labels/signs, tracing and recordkeeping of each item. Any variables or changes in ingredients, recipes or supplier will reinitiate this process, costing hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act is bipartisan legislation that addresses industry concerns with the FDA's menu labeling regulation. FMI supports this legislation because it helps address fundamental problems with FDA’s final menu labeling regulations, such as:
We urge members of congress to support the passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act and for FMI members to tell their members of congress why this action is important to them.
FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin joined bill sponsors Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) at a press event to more publicly introduce the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017), which would address several problems with FDA’s final menu labeling regulations.
FMI is providing questions to FDA officials to get more clarity on whether specific items will be covered under the scope of the regulation and to account for scenarios unique to the food retail industry. Submit your questions on the menu labeling final rule to help FMI account for questions about all the various situations throughout the industry to help ease the burden and confusion to comply with the regulation. We will provide answers and additional resources to field your questions and post the responses on our site
Submit Your Menu Labeling Questions
Menu Labeling Questions & Answers
View additional information on the issue of menu labeling and access all of FMI’s letters and statements by visiting our Menu Labeling Archives.
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