WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the compliance deadline for menu-labeling requirements from the original date of May 5, 2017, to May 7, 2018. This extension allows for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the interim final rule.
“Retailers with many different and diverse business models have raised concerns about how the rule lacks flexibility to permit them to provide meaningful nutrition information to consumers given their type of business and different operations,” the FDA's interim final rule states. “We have decided to extend the compliance date. The additional time will allow us to consider what opportunities there may be to address these fundamental and complex questions.”
In the next 60 days, the FDA is inviting comments on the implementation of the menu-labeling requirements, such as approaches to reduce regulatory burden or increase flexibility related to:
- calorie disclosure signage for self-service foods, including buffets and grab-and-go foods;
- methods for providing calorie disclosure information other than on the menu itself; and
- criteria for distinguishing between menus and other information presented to the consumer.
The extension will be effective on May 4, 2017, when the Federal Register publishes the extension in advance of the May 5 compliance date. The FDA’s 60-day comment period will also begin on May 4.
Retail and restaurant associations swiftly weighed in on the FDA’s decision to extend the deadline for a year.
“The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is concerned with the impact of the delay in the implementation of the federal menu labeling law just days before the scheduled effective date,” said Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of government affairs and policy for the NRA. “This delay upends plans that have been in motion for years throughout the food industry. We will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of what is best for small businesses and American consumers.”
In contrast, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) released a statement saying that it “applauds the delay and will submit comments on the interim final rule. NACS also will continue to support legislation introduced in both the previous and current Congress—the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act—which would provide a more practical and flexible approach among the various foodservice and retail establishments affected by the menu-labeling rule.”
NACS and the National Grocers Association had previously petitioned the FDA to extend the deadline due to what they called “unfair costs and compliance barriers.” According to NACS, the association will “continue to work with Congress and the administration to help ensure that the rules are revised so that they work for everyone.”