Restaurant Menu Labeling Requirements Take Effect, Nutrition Facts Label Rule Delayed

On Monday, a federal rule requiring calorie and nutrition information to be posted on menus of certain establishments throughout the United States took effect. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation applies to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations that sell prepared food items, including grocery stores and movie theaters. Businesses are also required to provide, upon request, written nutrition information for standard menu items and post statements about daily calorie intake.

The menu labeling rule was initially promulgated through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed by Congress in 2010, and has long been a point of contention among the food and restaurant industry. After eight years and several delays, consumers will now have access to nutrition information for all menu items in certain restaurants throughout the country. Additional information, including a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, is available here.

Also this week, the FDA announced it was delaying the compliance deadline for food manufacturers to update nutrition facts labeling and serving sizes on food packaging. According to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb, manufacturers need additional time to implement the nutrition facts labeling changes. As such, the FDA pushed back the deadline 18 months, requiring manufacturers with annual food sales in excess of $10 million to be in compliance by January 1, 2020, and manufacturers with annual food sales less than $10 million to be in compliance with January 1, 2021.

Recall, in May 2016 under the Obama Administration, the FDA announced the new requirements for nutrition fact labeling to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic disease conditions such as obesity and heart disease. Nutrition fact label requirements have not been updated in over 20 years, and the new label will require larger, bolder font detailing serving sizes and calories, updated daily values, a field for added sugars, and a change in listed nutrients. These changes are intended to more closely reflect the amount of food a person actually eats. Additional information on the updated required nutrition facts labeling is available here.