Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

CRS – Nutrition Labeling of Restaurant Menu and Vending Machine Items

CRS Report – Nutrition Labeling of Restaurant Menu and Vending Machine Items, February 5, 2018. “High rates of obesity and chronic diseases have prompted various federal, state, and local nutrition labeling initiatives. The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (P.L. 101-535) required nutrition labeling of most foods and dietary supplements, but it did not require labeling of food sold in restaurants. However, consumption data indicate that Americans consume more than one-third of their calories outside the home, and frequent eating out is associated with increased caloric intake. In 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148) into law, with Section 4205 mandating nutrition labeling in certain restaurants and similar retail food establishments (SRFEs). This provision also required calorie labeling of certain vending machine items. In 2011, as required by the ACA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published two proposed rules establishing calorie labeling requirements for food items sold in certain restaurants and vending machines; both rules were finalized and published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2014. The labeling rules were to take effect one year later (December 1, 2015) for restaurants and two years later (December 1, 2016) for vending machines. The compliance date was extended following language included in the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113), which prohibited the use of any funds for implementation, administration, or enforcement of the menu labeling requirements until the later of December 1, 2016, or until one year from the date that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues Level 1 guidance on compliance with specified requirements for menu labeling contained in the final menu labeling rule. FDA issued such final guidance on May 5, 2016, and stated that the agency would not begin enforcing the final rule until May 5, 2017. In response to continuing concerns from certain sectors of the affected industry and some Members of Congress, on May 1, 2017, FDA announced that it was extending the compliance date to May 7, 2018. FDA has also extended the compliance date for calorie labeling of certain food products sold in vending machines to July 26, 2018. In addition to requiring calorie labeling for food sold in certain restaurants and vending machines, labeling will also be required for prepared foods sold at supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores, and entertainment venues (e.g., movie theaters and amusement parks). Calorie counts will have to be listed on menus and menu boards for all standard items, including alcoholic drinks and salad bar items. Prior to the federal rule, state and local menu labeling regulations had resulted in a patchwork of labeling requirements, making compliance challenging for chain food establishments. Several restaurant chains (e.g., McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and Starbucks) had moved forward with nationwide nutrition labeling prior to FDA’s final rule, expressing support for a federal menu labeling standard. Opponents of the final menu labeling regulation have questioned FDA’s interpretation of the ACA provision, arguing that the final rule is more stringent than the regulation initially proposed by FDA or intended by Congress. For example, as mentioned above, the final rule requires grocery stores and delivery establishments (e.g., pizza places) to meet the labeling requirements. Opponents of the extension have argued that many chains are successfully complying with the labeling requirements and that consumers want menu labeling. This rule takes effect May 7, 2018, and some have asked FDA for additional guidance to address opponents’ concerns.”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.