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FDA Issues Final Guidance on Menu Labeling

May 04, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance last week on its menu labeling final rule. The rule will go into effect in 2017, one year from the date the guidance is published in the Federal Register, which FDA expects will happen this month.

FDA published the rule for labeling calorie content of menu items in restaurants or other similar establishments in December 2014 and issued draft guidance last September. In the final guidance, FDA has provided additional flexibility in a few areas, particularly for “grab and go” items sold in grocery stores and for declaring calories in combination meals.

Notable additions and changes include:

  • Updates to the types of facilities covered by the rule, including “concession stands” at entertainment venues as a restaurant-type facility that must display calorie contents on menus;
  • Additional information about declaring nutrition information for catering-type products sold from a covered establishment;
  • Clarification that nutrition information would be required on restaurant coupons that can also be used to order foods and beverages, such as a coupon with product name, price and a phone number or website;
  • Clarification on calorie labeling for sauces; if the sauce is an integral part of a food product, it must be included in the nutrient information for the entire food. If sauces are available individually on the side, then the nutrition information must be listed separately for each sauce;
  • Confirmation that electronic and website menus must follow the same rule as printed menus;
  • Additional information on the labeling of multi-component menu items, such as meals;
  • More information on labeling of “grab and go” items: Calories may be labeled directly on the packages but the total number of calories for the entire product must be declared;
  • Clarification of recordkeeping requirements, such as maintaining information where a product is offered for sale or at corporate headquarters; and
  • Additional information about the statement required from a responsible person about the food preparation methods.

IDFA members may find that foodservice customers request additional information in order to calculate calorie content for labeling of menus and for other nutrition information that may be required. FDA plans to host webinars and other educational opportunities to help foodservice operators and other stakeholders. 

Read the final guidance here.

Hogan Lovells US LLP, IDFA’s outside legal counsel, has prepared a memorandum for members that offers more details. Members may login to read it. 

Members with questions may contact Michelle Matto, IDFA's nutrition and labeling consultant, at amfoodnutrition@gmail.com.

 
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