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Retailer Requests Instrumental in Menu-Labeling Delay

WASHINGTON – Giving restaurants and retailers an extra year to comply, and to provide clarification on compliance, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is extending the date for menu-labeling requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act in certain restaurants and retail food establishments including some convenience stores and grocery stores to Dec. 1, 2016.

The FDA issued the original rule on Dec. 1, 2014, and the original compliance date was Dec. 1, 2015.

The final rule defines “covered establishment” as a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is a part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership, for example, individual franchises) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.

As reported in a 21st Century Smoke/CSP Daily News Flash, the FDA received numerous requests asking it to further interpret portions of the final rule or to respond to questions asking whether specific practices would be acceptable for purposes of complying with the rule.

It also received requests asking it to extend the compliance date of the final rule based on concerns that covered establishments do not have adequate time to fully implement the requirements of the rule by the compliance date.

“These requests were submitted by a large retailer and trade and other associations, and they provide information regarding steps involved in implementation of the requirements,” the FDA said. “More specifically, the requests describe steps involved in developing software, information systems and other technologies for providing nutrition information in ways that better correspond to how foods are offered for sale in covered establishments and allow for more efficient and product-specific nutrition labeling. In addition, the requests describe steps involved in training staff, implementing standard operating procedures, and developing and installing updated and consistent menu boards across all locations within a chain. Most requests sought to extend the compliance date by one year.”

It continued, “In light of these requests, we have decided to extend the compliance date for the final rule to Dec. 1, 2016. The final rule requirements are intended to ensure that consumers are provided accurate, clear and consistent nutrition information for foods sold in covered establishments in a direct and accessible manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices; therefore, allowing adequate time for covered establishments to fully implement the final rule’s requirements, as described in the requests, helps accomplish the primary objective of the final rule and is in the public interest.”

The FDA said it will issue detailed guidelines next month to clarify compliance.

Click here to view the Federal Register Notice for the Compliance Date Extension.


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