Last week, FDA said it will extend the enforcement date for its menu labeling rule for a full year, giving all parties covered by the new rule ample time to prepare. Chain restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses that fall under the new rule had asked FDA for more time.
“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,” says Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
FDA issued its final rule on menu labeling earlier this year. The rule requires food establishments with 20 or more locations to provide consumers with calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items. The rule is primarily targeted at restaurants, but many grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters, bakeries and coffee shops also fall under its jurisdiction.
According to the Associated Press, the menus will use a 2,000-calorie diet as the baseline for daily nutrition. Additional information such as sodium, fat and sugar will be available upon request.
In the wake of the FDA’s action, 32 members of the US Senate supported a measure giving grocery stores one year to come into compliance. “The Senate has spoken,” says Leslie Sarasin, CEO of the Food Marketing Institute. “It is time now for FDA to address all the problems supermarkets have raised regarding the grocery industry’s ability to comply with a regulation designed for chain restaurants.”
With the timeline extended, Taylor says FDA will continue to engage in discussions with all parties covered by the rule to answer questions about how it applies in each situation. In addition, Taylor says FDA plans to issue a draft guidance document in August that provides answers to some of the more frequently asked and cross-cutting questions that the agency has received to further help covered establishments comply with the rule.
“This guidance document will be labeled ‘draft’ to reflect the FDA’s openness to further comments and dialogue and to expanding the guidance as new questions arise,” Taylor says. “FDA encourages companies to consider the information in the August guidance as they prepare to comply by December 2016. There will be an opportunity for comment on the draft guidance, and FDA will review any comments received as quickly as possible.”
For more information, see the Federal Register Notice for the Compliance Date Extension.