Three States Say Federal Guidelines Override State Menu-Label Laws

Officials in New Jersey, Oregon and Massachusetts say they will not implement state menu-labeling rules set to take effect Jan. 1 and will follow the uniform guidelines set forth under the national healthcare reform act passed earlier this year. The federal standard was created to replace the patchwork of state and local guidelines regulating what kinds of information operators had to provide to consumers. The federal nutrition-disclosure standard requires chain restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machine-operators with 20 or more locations to provide specific nutrition labeling. Restaurants must post calories on menus, menu boards and drive-thru boards. Buffets, salad bars and other self-service items will be required to provide caloric information adjacent to the item.

Officials in Nassau Co., N.Y., also have recognized that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act supersedes state menu-labeling laws. The National Restaurant Association is working with its member associations in other states where the governments haven’t recognized the federal pre-emption and overlapping and contrary laws might confuse the consumer and lead to an expensive changeover for operators. According to the NRA, at least one other state, Maine, has also indicated that it will not enforce its state law due to take effect Feb. 1.

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