Whether it was Congressional pressure or the heat felt from large retail businesses and industry associations, FDA decided to extend the date for compliance with the menu labeling rule by one year. The final rule, “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments”, was published on December 1, 2014 with the effective compliance date originally set for December 1, 2015. As announced in a Federal Register notice last week, covered establishments now have until December 2016 to make sure they comply with the requirements.
“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,” said Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in an FDA notice.
“The final rule requirements are intended to ensure that consumers are provided accurate, clear, and consistent nutrition information for foods sold in covered establishments in a direct and accessible manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices.” Source: Federal Register
“Covered establishments” are restaurants or similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain and have 20 more locations that conduct business under the same name and offer the same menu items. This can include individual franchises.
Since February, FDA has received four requests for an extension of the final rule’s compliance date. These concerns, which were submitted by a large retailer and industry associations, stated that there wasn’t enough time to fully implement requirements. The requests also detailed the extensive steps involved in compliance, which include:
- Developing software and information systems that provide nutritional information
- Training staff
- Rolling out standard operating procedures
- Developing and installing updated and consistent menus (across retail chain operations)
FDA plans to issue a draft guidance next month that will answer questions it has received about complying with the rule. The agency will also offer educational and technical help to businesses covered under the rule and will work with state, local and regulatory partners to support nationwide compliance.