Foodservice Equipment Reports

USDA Serves Notice: Reviews Are Nearly In For Menu Labeling

It’s the final review process, finally, for the menu labeling requirement already pro forma in many foodservice chains. After several postponements and delays, the federal government has moved that piece of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the final step in the review process.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it moved the regulation— which calls for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie information on menus and menu boards, and provide certain other nutrition data upon request—to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review.

“The OMB has the rule,” said Joan McGlockton, v.p.-food policy at the National Restaurant Association. “Once the process is completed, the final regulation will be published and become public. However, the law will not become effective at that time. We anticipate chain restaurants will have at least six months to one year to implement the law once the final regulation is published.”

The NRA, which previously provided comments to the FDA seeking more flexibility and protection for operators who make good-faith efforts to comply with the law, will provide analysis of the final regulation once it is published so restaurateurs better understand what is required to comply with the law, she added.

The FDA’s proposed menu-labeling regulations were released in 2011 as part of the health care law. In addition to requiring chains to post caloric information, the law also states that information on fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber and protein also would have to be made available to customers, in writing, upon request. Many chains have already complied with the regulation.