House panel approves bill to loosen FDA’s menu labeling requirements for food retail establishments.

  • As previously covered on this blog, starting on December 1, 2016, FDA will require 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) to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items.  This requirement has been criticized as unduly onerous, particularly with respect to its application to locations such as grocery stores, convenience stores, and pizza parlors that market highly variable menu items.  Some have estimated compliance costs for the industry at more than $1 billion.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health now has approved a bill that would loosen the application of FDA’s menu labeling requirements under certain circumstances.  The bipartisan Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to make compliance more workable for locations (such as pizzerias) where the majority of orders are placed by customers off-premises (e.g., via Internet or phone) and to give locations greater flexibility in determining how to disclose nutrition information for multi-serving products with the potential for significant compositional variation (e.g., pizzas with numerous topping combinations).
  • The food retail industry generally supports Congress’ initiative to lessen the impact of the rule.  The House bill now proceeds to the full Committee for further consideration, and a companion bill also is working its way through the Senate.