NEW YORK — The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) have joined grocery and restaurant groups in filing suit to stop New York City’s effort to enforce menu labeling this summer.
NACS, NYACS, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Restaurant Law Center (RLC) filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The groups aim to stop New York from prematurely enforcing rules requiring calorie and nutrient information prior to a May 2018 compliance date established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The lawsuit claims that New York’s premature enforcement is preempted by federal law.
In May, the FDA announced that it is deferring enforcement of nationwide menu-labeling rules until May 2018 in response to industry concerns regarding implementation and to consider possible amendments to alleviate the costs of the rule. The FDA published rules requiring calorie disclosures on menus in 2014, but has decided to delay them in order to work through problems with those rules.
“New York City can’t jump the gun and start imposing fines when FDA hasn’t even figured out how disclosures should be made,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations for NACS. “Doing that holds stores to standards that no one can meet and undermines the point of having a federal law in the first place.”
“It’s ridiculous for New York City to force convenience-store chains to prematurely incur the costs and logistical burdens associated with menu labeling when federal regulations preempt localities from doing so,” said James Calvin, president of the NYACS.
“Federal preemption for menu labeling is the law of the land. New York City is overstepping its legal authority in its attempt to enforce menu labeling ahead of the federal compliance date of May 7, 2018. We expect our preliminary injunction request will be granted to this clear violation of federal law,” said Angelo Amador, executive director of RLC.
“The federal law preempts a municipality from taking matters into its own hands, and this is exactly what New York City is attempting to do,” said Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer for FMI. “New York City’s actions threaten interstate commerce and would introduce unneeded elements of confusion into the food retail marketplace.”
As part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs asked the court to enter an injunction to stop New York from enforcing its rules until the federal rules are ready. Unless the court acts, New York has threatened to start levying fines against retailers and restaurants starting on Aug. 21.