FDA issues draft menu labeling guidance.

  • On December 1, 2014, FDA published a final rule to implement the menu labeling provisions added to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) by the Affordable Care Act.  Under the new requirements, restaurants or similar retail food establishments (in chains of 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and selling substantially similar menu items) must provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items.  Although the menu labeling requirements originally were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2015, FDA recently extended the compliance date to December 1, 2016.
  • On September 11, 2015, FDA issued a draft guidance document intended to assist restaurants and retail establishments with complying with the menu labeling requirements.  The 53-page document provides instructive examples in a Q&A format to clarify the rule’s applicability and flexibility.
  • Regarding compliance and enforcement, the failure to declare accurate calorie and other nutrition information in accordance with FDA’s requirements will result in foods being considered misbranded under the FD&C Act.  FDA is responsible for enforcing the menu labeling requirements, but state governments could enforce them under certain circumstances.  Also, states or localities may establish and enforce menu labeling requirements that are identical to the federal requirements.  FDA has indicated its intent to work with state and local authorities to coordinate implementation and enforcement.  Covered establishments should familiarize themselves with applicable requirements and develop appropriate compliance strategies.

Upcoming Seminar — spaces still available:  Keller and Heckman is hosting an intensive one-day seminar in New York City on September 24, 2015 to discuss food authenticity issues, particularly with respect to Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Event details and registration information are available here.