The Food and Drug Administration recently released its final draft guidance document, “A Labeling Guide for Restaurants and Retail Establishments Selling Away-From-Home Foods — Part II,” regarding menu labeling that provides additional information and answers regarding covered establishments, catered events, mobile vendors, record keeping requirements, etc.
The FDA says, “Posting calories on menus and menu boards and providing other nutrient information in writing in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments will fill a critical information gap and help consumers make informed and healthful dietary choices.”
However, the supermarket industry was wanting greater flexibility regarding salad bars and hot food bars. The Food Marketing Institute says, “While we are pleased to have any type of guidance to assist with our challenging efforts to comply with a rule and a structure written for chain restaurants — as opposed to one that contemplates the operations of supermarkets with large and varied produce departments evolving to salad bars or seafood departments evolving to hot foods bars — the supermarket industry still seeks flexibility from FDA. Specifically, food retailers wish to preserve their opportunity to sell locally produced foods that are sold at only one or two locations as well as their ability to use one sign/menu/menu board in a prepared foods area or next to a salad bar.”
The National Restaurant Association has been in support of the menu labeling laws approved by Congress in 2010. The final menu labeling rule requires restaurants and similar retail establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. FDA plans to begin enforcement May of 2017.