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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Final adherence for the federal menu labeling rule has been delayed once again.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted an interim final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget that signals a delay in the agency’s final menu labeling rule, which was set to take effect May 5.
Initially released on Nov. 25, 2014, the rule establishes menu labeling requirements for chain restaurants and “similar retail food establishments.” Generally, establishments that are covered by the rule must post calories for standard menu items on menus or menu boards; or, for self-service items and foods on display, on signs adjacent to the items. Retailers must also provide additional written nutritional information to consumers upon request.
The FDA issued its final guidance on menu labeling regulations on April 29, 2015. The document contained virtually no changes from the original draft guidance.
In December 2016, after confusion over whether the effective date was Dec. 1, 2016 or May 5, 2017, the FDA clarified and announced that it would issue a new rule moving the compliance date to match the enforcement date, as CSNews Online previously reported.
NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, and the National Grocers Association (NGA) submitted a petition to the FDA on April 5 of this year, asking the agency to delay the final rule’s effective date. According to Politico Pro, the “apparent change in course” follows the collective efforts of NACS and NGA.
NACS continues to maintain that the menu labeling regulations established by the FDA do not account for the varying approaches to foodservice between big-chain restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and delivery operations such as pizza chains.
According to the association, the FDA’s regulations add unfair costs and compliance barriers to establishments with offerings that do not appear on a centralized "menu" board, and establishments that may have multiple coffee, frozen drink and food islands as opposed to the central ordering point in a traditional fast-food restaurant.
The regulations also place a store or restaurant at risk for criminal penalties if it gives some customers larger servings than they expected based on the calorie information provided, NACS states.