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FDA Delays Menu-Labeling Rule

Food Safety Violations, FDA

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:11 am

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 27 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 set to take effect on May 5. While the FDA announced the submission that has yet to be published, the final rule was expected April 27.

Earlier this month, the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) submitted a petition to the FDA asking the agency to delay the final rule’s effective date. According to Politico Pro, the “apparent change in course” follows the collective efforts by the trade associations.

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, as well as provide additional written nutrition information to consumers upon request.

Greg Ferrara, NGA’s SVP of government relations and public affairs, said, “We’re pleased to see the pending delay in menu labeling and this is certainly a good first step. Implementation of this regulation represents one of the costliest regulations for the supermarket industry with estimates exceeding $1 billion for our industry alone, and there remains a lot of uncertainty and confusion with the law. We applaud the administration for listening to the concerns of main street grocers and look forward to working with the FDA on important fixes to the regulation that will provide independent supermarkets with regulatory flexibility and protection from frivolous lawsuits as they try to implement this law in-store.”

NACS says that it has and 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.

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, according to NACS. 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, the group says.

To provide a more practical and flexible approach among the various foodservice and retail establishments affected by the menu-labeling rule, NACS says it supports legislation introduced in both the previous and current Congress, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (HR 772/SB 261). NACS says it will continue to work with Congress and the administration to help ensure that the rules are revised so that they work for everyone.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA), however, says it is “reminding the federal government that the industry most impacted by this standard fully supports implementation.”

In a statement, Cicely Simpson, the group’s EVP of government affairs and policy, said, “The National Restaurant Association strongly cautions against any actions that would delay implementation of the menu-labeling law. Previously, menu-labeling laws were being passed on a state-by-state or city-by-city basis and, in some cases, counties were competing with cities to pass similar laws. If the federal standard is repealed, we will once again return to this patchwork approach that will be even more burdensome for restaurants to implement and will not have the legal safeguards included in the federal law. We must protect small businesses by not delaying implementation of this important rule.”

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Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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