Amid Lawsuit, NYC Menu Labeling Regulations Delayed
NEW YORK CITY — Enforcement of the city's calorie labeling law has been delayed to Aug. 25 as legal challenges mount, according to media reports. This includes the Food and Drug Administration itself pushing back against New York's efforts to mandate the posting of calorie counts ahead of the FDA's menu labeling regulations going into effect.
NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, along with the New York Association of Convenience Stores, the Food Marketing Institute, and the Restaurant Law Center, sued the city in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last month to prevent it from enforcing its regulations prior to the the FDA's compliance date. Plaintiffs argued that federal law prohibits New York from moving forward with enforcement prior to that date.
On Aug. 16, legal counsel for the plaintiffs, the city and the federal government met with U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, who is presiding over NACS' legal challenge, NACS reported.
During the meeting, plaintiffs and the city agreed to discuss potential solutions to the legal dispute. New York will delay enforcement of its regulations to allow those discussions to take place.
A new hearing before Judge Marrero has been scheduled for Aug. 25, NACS said.
On Aug. 14, the FDA moved to support the groups seeking to delay New York's enforcement date, reported Crain's New York. Federal law preempts the city's efforts, argued lawyers for the government.
"The FDA has been tasked with determining when and in what circumstances uniform menu-labeling rules will be enforced across the nation," lawyers wrote. "The city may not choose to take its path in the face of this clear expression of Congressional purpose."
Earlier this year, the FDA delayed enforcement of its menu labeling rule for a third time to May 2018.
"While the Trump administration may disagree, knowledge is power, and that is particularly true when it comes to nutrition," said New York City Council Member Corey Johnson, chairman of the Health Committee, said in the statement. "People have the right to readily-available information regarding the food they consume and the effects it will have on their health."
Mary Travis Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health, stated outside the hearing with Judge Marrero that she feared the Trump administration is signaling its intention to roll back existing city laws and planned federal rules.
"With this administration, a delay may mean never," she said.
New York became the first U.S. city to require fast food and other restaurant chains to post calorie counts in 2008. In 2015, the city amended the law to include calorie information about prepared foods sold in chain convenience stores and grocers, along with a requirement that the average recommended daily intake of 2,000 calories be displayed to give the labels context.
"Poor nutrition is fueling an epidemic of chronic diseases, and this basic information should be accessible and transparent to all," Bassett said in a statement.
The New York law includes fines of up to $600 for failure to comply. It applies to chain restaurants with 15 locations or more nationwide, and is expected to affect approximately 3,000 restaurants and 1,500 food retailers.
"We plan to fully implement that policy, in a manner that applies consistent, science-based standards to outstanding implementation questions," said DA spokeswoman Jennifer Corbett Dooren in a statement. "Congress understood the importance of implementing a single, national standard."