Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA, NCCR File Comments On Draft Menu-Labeling Regs

On July 5, the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants filed comments regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s draft menu-labeling regulations.  The association was a primary advocate for the menu-labeling law, passed in March 2010, which will require restaurant chains with 20 or more locations operating under the same brand to provide detailed nutrition information to consumers, and display calories on the menu, menu board, or drive-through. Under the law, nutrition information and calories on the menu and menu board will be available in more than 250,000 restaurant locations nationwide.

“Given the complexity of the restaurant industry and the many different types of concepts ranging from quick service to fine dining, we appreciate the FDA’s efforts to draft these regulations,” said Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO.  “In our comments, we have outlined some of the ways we believe the regulations can be improved and strengthened, to better allow restaurants and foodservice outlets to most effectively display nutrition information to consumers.”

Some highlights:

  • Who Is Included: The associations urged that “similar retail food establishments with restaurant-like operations” should be required to adhere to the same menu-labeling requirements as restaurants. The proposed regulations currently do not include movie theaters, amusement parks, general merchandise stores, hotels, trains or planes
  • Disclosure Flexibility: Because of factors outside a restaurateur’s control—such as when an ingredient becomes unavailable from a supplier and nutrition content is altered by the use of a substitute ingredient—the FDA should adopt a flexible policy that allows restaurants to update menus in concert with regular menu cycles. The NRA and NCCR also suggest standards simply stating that nutrition information must be presented in a manner that is clear and conspicuous to the consumer under FDA-formulated rules on font size and color. If a restaurant adheres to those guidelines, it would be considered in compliance.
  • Reasonable Basis Standard: The comments call for the FDA to follow congressional intent, captured by statute, that restaurant operators use the “reasonable basis” standard.  The reasonable basis standard has been recognized by the FDA for twenty years in determining nutrition calculations required by the law, rather than a standard used for packaged foods produced in a food processing facility.

  • Implementation Timeframe: The FDA’s proposed regulations currently give restaurants six months to comply after the regulations are issued. The NRA and NCCR recommend that the timeline for compliance be at least a year to allow operators, especially small businesses, to absorb the impact.

“We encourage the FDA to incorporate our suggested changes in determining the final regulations,” said Sweeney.  “We want to make it easy for restaurants to share nutrition information with consumers.”

Full comments can be found here.  

Related Articles

Suit filed To Halt NYC Menu Labeling

FDA Pulls Back Enforcement, Will Tweak Menu Labeling Regs

New Draft Guidance On Menu Labeling