FDA Extends Restaurant Menu Labeling Rules One Year: FMI Applauds Decision

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin says the FMI will continue to work with both FDA and Congress to address business challenges with implementing restaurant menu labeling in grocery stores.

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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin responded to today’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to provide a 1-year delay to the date restaurants – and those deemed by FDA to be “similar retail food establishments” – would be required to apply the final chain-restaurant-menu-labeling rule.

Sarasin stated, “We’re encouraged that FDA’s commitment will give us more time to at least garner some clarity and answers without feeling rushed to make difficult business decisions in an attempt to comply by Dec. 1, 2015 with regulations that are unclear.” 

FMI will continue to work with both FDA and Congress to address business challenges with implementing restaurant menu labeling in grocery stores. Yesterday’s U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s vote and the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 2017) remain critical pieces of legislation for the food retail industry.

Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, issued the following statement:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appreciates and takes very seriously the extensive input it has received from stakeholders throughout the process of establishing requirements for menu labeling in restaurants and other retail food establishments. The FDA is committed to working collaboratively with those establishments covered by the menu labeling final rule, including chain restaurants, covered grocery stores, and others to facilitate timely and efficient implementation of the new requirements.

Since the FDA issued the menu labeling final rule on Dec. 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 is extending the compliance date for the menu labeling rule to Dec. 1, 2016, for those covered by the rule.

To support compliance by this date, the FDA will continue to engage in discussions with the covered businesses and to answer questions about how the rule applies in particular situations. In addition, 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.

There will be an opportunity for comment on the draft guidance and the FDA will review any comments received as quickly as possible.

In addition to the guidance, the FDA will also provide educational and technical assistance for the covered businesses and for our state, local, and tribal regulatory partners to support reasonable and consistent compliance nationwide. Now and following the Dec. 1, 2016 compliance date, the FDA will work flexibly and collaboratively with individual companies making a good faith effort to comply with the law.

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