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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- New regulations regarding menu labeling and calorie information are expected to be released soon, but writing the rules has proved more complicated than expected, according to a report by The Hill.
At a Nov. 5 event sponsored by Bloomberg Government, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said she originally anticipated that the process of issuing the regulations, which are mandated by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "[would] be one of the most straightforward tasks. Little did I know how complicated it would be."
While the law requires the FDA to mandate calorie labels at restaurants, vending machines and "similar retail food establishments," determining which establishments count as "similar" is the most complicated step.
"Should a movie theater that has a full menu and has all kinds of food stuff be included in menu labeling?" Hamburg asked. "Or what about a pizza place that doesn't allow patrons to dine in and only delivers?"
After the FDA provided its first draft of the regulations in April 2011, it received more than 900 comments. Some non-restaurant retailers, including convenience stores and supermarkets, have lobbied for exemption from the requirements.
"We've put out proposed rules about menu labeling and we're now in the process of responding to all of the feedback that we've gotten," Hamburg said. "We're making it through that process, and I think we'll be coming out with final rules soon."
The regulations, which were previously scheduled to be released in September, could cost affected parties as much as $537 million in the first year of compliance, according to the FDA's analysis.