The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will be publishing a final rule that formally extends the compliance date for menu labeling regulations to May 5. Below is a statement from Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of government affairs at the National Restaurant Association.

“The National Restaurant Association applauds the FDA for issuing this important clarification regarding menu labeling,” Simpson says. “We have long-advocated for a nationwide federal menu labeling standard that gives customers access to uniform nutritional information at restaurants, that provides certainty to restaurateurs and food service operators over the patchwork of state and local laws. Today’s announcement by the FDA gives the food service industry the time it needs to empower their customers to make the best choices for themselves.”

The FDA's full statement is as follows:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it will soon publish a final rule to formally extend to May 5, 2017, the compliance date for the agency’s 2014 menu labeling regulation, which requires disclosure of certain nutrition information for standard menu items in certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. This extension will align the compliance date with the enforcement date.

Section 747 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed on December 18, 2015, prohibited the FDA from using appropriated funds to implement, administer or enforce the menu labeling requirements until one year after the FDA issues final guidance for industry on the menu labeling requirements. On May 5, 2016, the FDA published the final guidance and announced in the Federal Register that enforcement of the menu labeling rule would begin on May 5, 2017.

While the FDA made clear that it would not begin enforcing menu labeling requirements prior to May 5, 2017, the FDA did not at that time formally make a change to the compliance date through rulemaking. Thus, the compliance date was officially December 1, 2016, as communicated in our November 29, 2016 Constituent Update. To bring the official compliance date into alignment with the enforcement date, the FDA is now announcing that it will issue a final rule to formally extend the compliance date to May 5, 2017.

This Constituent Update supersedes any previous FDA statements regarding the compliance date for the menu labeling regulations."

The menu-labeling requirement, part of the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010, was expected to begin December 1, 2015, but has been delayed twice. In 2015, Congress asked that the FDA delay the ruling one year after the final guidance, which was then published May 5 of this year. The law will require restaurants and foodservice businesses with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu to post calorie information for standard menu items and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request.

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