FDA Food Menu Labeling Requirements – Compliance Extended

nutitional-labelingThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is extending the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018.  According to the FDA, “This extension allows for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the interim final rule.”

About Menu Labeling

Menu labeling makes calorie information available on chain restaurant menus will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.

Nutrition labeling in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will provide consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information in a direct and accessible manner for the foods they eat and buy for their families. Posting calories on menus and menu boards and providing other nutrient information in writing in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will fill a critical information gap and help consumers make informed and healthful dietary choices.

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Covered establishments will list calorie information for standard menu items on menus and menu boards and a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. Other nutrient information—total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein—will have to be made available in writing on request.

Menu Labeling FAQs

If you are curious about what the menu labeling requirements entail, FDA published a set of FAQs – along with answers back in October 2016. Here are a couple:

  1. How do menu labeling requirements impact packaged food manufacturers?
    The requirements for menu labeling largely affect a different segment of industry—restaurants and similar retail food establishments. We do not expect these requirements to have a great impact on manufacturers. Those establishments that are covered by the menu labeling rule must comply with menu labeling requirements by [new date: May 7, 2018].
  2. Will I easily find the posted information about calories?
    Yes. Calories must be clear and prominent on menus and menu boards and on signs next to self-service foods and foods on display. For calorie declarations on menus and menu boards, the size of the calorie declaration must be no smaller than the size of the name or the price of the menu item it refers to, whichever is smaller. In general such calorie declarations must be in the same color, or a similar color as that used for the name of the associated menu item. The menu labeling rule also provides specific type size, color, and contrast requirements for calorie declarations on signs next to self-service foods and foods on display.

    For covered vending machines, the calories must be posted on a sign (e.g., small placard, sticker, poster) close to the article of food or selection button, subject to certain exceptions. The vending machine rule contains certain requirements related to size of type, color, and contrast of the calorie declarations to ensure visibility at the point of purchase.

Public Comments

The extension will be effective on May 4, 2017, when the Federal Register publishes the extension in advance of the May 5 compliance date. The 60-day comment period begins May 4, 2017.

Comments can be submitted online via http://www.regulations.gov.

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