FDA Develops New Help for Federal Requirements on Menu Labeling

FDA Develops New Help for Federal Requirements on Menu Labeling

FDA Develops New Help for Federal Requirements on Menu Labeling

The United States Food and Drug Administration has released two new documents to aid chain restaurants in complying with the new nutrition labeling guidelines required by the federal government. These guidelines were developed to help consumers make healthier food choices when dining out. The food facts are similar to those published on the sides of food containers found in grocery stores.

The Affordable Care Act, passed into law during March 2010, contains Section 4205 which addresses this new plan. Federal requirements are set out that detail the nutrition labels many chain restaurants and other retail food businesses must now provide for their customers. Companies with over 20 locations have a chance of being asked to follow these guidelines.

The documents that the FDA released include:

-A document containing guidance on the properly implementation of some provisions of the law, including displaying calorie information on standard menu items on menus and signs, offering in depth information in writing, and posting a notice that this information is available. Self serve items and any displayed foods must also have nutrition information posted.

-A document explaining the effects of the nutrition labeling requirements on any applicable local and state laws.

The first document explains that the FDA understands that the restaurant industry may require more time and in-depth information to comply with the law. The agency plans to withhold enforcement for some amount of time that is still being decided upon. The FDA also welcomes comments from the public on the best time period for this.

These documents are just one step in the FDA’s implementation of these new labeling requirements. The FDA started a public docket to collect comments and suggestions on how the agency can best apply the rules on July 7. Information on how restaurants and other food providing establishments not required by law to comply can elect to do so in a notice released on July 21.

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