FDA issues final menu labeling guidance.

  • As previously covered on this blog, FDA has been in the process of implementing menu labeling provisions added to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic 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 were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2015, enforcement was later delayed to December 1, 2016.  Then, due to a provision in the omnibus spending bill passed last December, enforcement was further delayed until one year after the issuance of final guidance on the menu labeling requirements.
  • On April 29, FDA announced the publication of final guidance on the menu labeling provisions.  FDA has indicated that a notice of availability will be published in the Federal Register in early May, and the Agency intends to begin enforcing the menu labeling final rule one year thereafter (i.e., in May 2017).  Click here for the text of the final guidance document, which augments the draft guidance by providing additional examples and new or revised questions and answers related to topics such as alcoholic beverages, grab-and-go items, and recordkeeping requirements.
  • Now that FDA has issued final menu labeling guidance, there is likely nothing short of federal legislation that will further extend the enforcement date.  Covered entities should be developing compliance strategies and familiarizing themselves with the final guidance document in preparation for compliance by May 2017.