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FDA prepares to delay menu labeling rule

Industry mixed on whether rule should proceed, as smaller retailers feel it will bring additional burdens on them.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is delaying the menu labeling rule, which provides consumers with nutritional information on the foods they purchase. The menu labeling rule, which was included as part of the Affordable Care Act, was set to go into effect on May 5, 2017—seven years after the law was enacted.

FDA filed an interim final rule for White House review to provide the food industry with more time to comply with the regulations.

Congress in 2010 required that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations and on certain vending machines. In 2014, FDA finalized rules implementing the statutory menu labeling and vending machine labeling requirements.

The delay was requested by the likes of The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS) and the National Grocers Assn. However, the National Restaurant Assn. said its members were prepared for the change and did not need a delay.

In a statement, NACS said “the menu labeling regulations established by the FDA do not account for the varying approaches to foodservice between big-chain restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and delivery operations such as pizza chains.”

The National Restaurant Assn., however, strongly cautioned against any actions that would delay implementation of the menu labeling law.

Previously, menu labeling laws were being passed on a state-by-state or city-by-city basis, and in some cases, counties were competing with cities to pass similar laws. "If the federal standard is repealed, we will once again return to this patchwork approach that will be even more burdensome for restaurants to implement and will not have the legal safeguards included in the federal law,” said Cicely Simpson, National Restaurant Assn. executive vice president of government affairs and policy. “We must protect small businesses by not delaying implementation of this important rule.”

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