WASHINGTON -- After months of debate and grappling with the particulars of looming menu-labeling laws, convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurant chains and other foodservice operations will officially face enforcement of revised regulations beginning May 7, 2018. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that, in advance of enforcement, the agency will release a final draft of updated rules for c-stores and other foodservice locations to review and submit comment on prior to the enforcement deadline.
As reported in CSP's sister publication Foodservice Director, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has announced several revisions to the rules, reflecting a number of primary concerns relayed to the agency by retailers and restaurants. The latest draft of regulations is in "direct response to the comments we got on our menu-labeling regulation," Gottlieb said in a statement. The FDA has proposed the following updates to the labeling regulations:
- Posters, billboards and coupons illustrating or listing food and drink offerings will not be officially regarded as menus, and would be exempt from featuring calorie counts for the items depicted.
- For self-service food bars and beverage stations, there will only be a single sign listing all ingredients and their calorie counts, rather than an individual calorie content for each type of food or drink item. However, it remains unclear whether or not this proposed revision applies only to convenience stores and supermarkets, or if this will be applicable to all foodservice venues.
- Rules for menu tests will be revised; during a promotional period in which a c-store, restaurant or other foodservice operation will offer a menu item on a trial basis to gauge customer interest, calorie counts for the item will not be required. Test offerings that are not yet part of the permanent menu will be exempt from menu-labeling rules, as long as the trial period lasts 90 days or less.
Other proposed updates are related to new rules for pizza chains and pizza offerings in general. Rather than provide calorie counts for a particular pizza variety, the FDA is proposing that chains and other outlets provide calorie counts for individual pizza toppings and provide a calorie-count range depending upon the portion size. As build-your-own pizza platforms continue to flourish, the revised regulations would allow customers to be informed about how many calories their specific pizza build would contain. For example, adding extra sausage to their pizza would add 100 calories to a medium pizza or 40 calories to a small pizza.
CSP's colleagues at Restaurant Business magazine are also tracking the development of the FDA's latest revisions and will provide additional analysis of how the newest updates differ from preceding rules that were initially laid out by the agency.