FDA Final Menu Labeling Compliance Date Set

FDA Final Menu Labeling Compliance Date Set

The final compliance date for menu labeling regulations has been set.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that as of May 5, 2017, restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more U.S. locations must provide calories on menus and menu boards and nutrition information for 10 additional nutrients at the point of sale.  This enforcement deadline along with the release of the final guidance on menu labeling, “A Labeling Guide for Restaurants and Retail Establishments Selling Away-From-Home Foods – Part II (Menu Labeling Requirements in Accordance with 21 CFR 101.11),” officially start the countdown clock for restaurants.

For affected restaurants that have already completed nutrition analysis of their menus, this timeline affords additional time to go beyond basic compliance.  Brands may want to take the opportunity to review the accuracy of existing nutrition information, revise recipes to improve the numbers that will need to be disclosed to guests, complete staff training or even work with experts to compile additional in-demand data on gluten, allergens, vegetarian, vegan, “clean” and other information about their menu items.

Restaurants that have chosen to wait on the final guidance document and compliance date to move forward with nutrition analysis should begin now to ensure complete compliance in time for the May 5, 2017 deadline.  Compiling standardized recipes, partnering with the right company to complete full nutrient analysis, printing menus and menu boards, creating systems to maintain accuracy of nutrition information and training staff may take longer than anticipated.

In its recent announcement, the FDA reassured covered establishments that it “is committed to working flexibly and cooperatively with establishments covered by the menu labeling final rule and to providing educational and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal regulatory partners to support consistent compliance nationwide.”  As part of this promise, the FDA has committed to offering webinars and menu labeling workshops to help restaurants and other businesses comply.

Covered establishments not already working with an expert in menu labeling can also send questions on menu labeling requirements directly to CalorieLabeling@fda.hhs.gov.