FDA Promises More Guidance to Address Menu Labeling Concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has promised to provide additional, practical guidance on the agency's menu labeling requirements by the end of the year, while acknowledging the FDA's responsibility for "crafting predictable, uniform federal standards that will benefit the health of families across America by ensuring access to essential calorie and nutrition information on food and menu labels."

"Americans should not have to navigate variable information about the foods they eat when traveling from state to state — or city to city," he said. "Inconsistent state and local requirements may also drive up the cost of food, and sow confusion, by requiring restaurants and other covered establishments to post different information based on location.

"We take seriously our obligation to consumers; to make sure they have access to useful menu-labeling information in a simple and timely manner. We also share Congress' goal in enacting these labeling provisions: to ensure that calorie and nutrition information is delivered in a clear, consistent and predictable way. Similarly, we recognize our obligation to provide clear guidance so that restaurants and other establishments that are subject to these provisions have clarity and certainty as to how they can efficiently meet the new menu-labeling requirements," Gottlieb stated.

The commissioner noted that the FDA has already crafted detailed menu-labeling regulations shaped by input from consumers, industry representatives and other stakeholders, which can be viewed here.

The upcoming additional guidance will address concerns raised about the challenges that foodservice retailers face in understanding how to meet their obligations under the new regulations.

"We have been diligently working to address the comments we received, and to establish a sustainable framework for enabling establishments to effectively meet the new menu-labeling provisions," Gottlieb said. "These new policy steps should allow covered establishments to implement the requirements by next year's compliance date."

Representatives for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Grocers Association expressed approval of the further guidance.

"We appreciate additional insight into how the agency might further reduce the regulatory burden or increase flexibility for compliance with the chain restaurant menu-labeling rule," a spokesperson for FMI told Progressive Grocer, a sister publication to Convenience Store News.

Click here to read more from Progressive Grocer.