The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released late last week its final guidance on menu labeling.
Designed to offer clarity and guidance on previously released menu labeling regulations, the latest document has been highly anticipated as the final step to implementing those regulations.
Earlier this year, the FDA said that enforcement of menu labeling regulations would be delayed until one year after issuance of the final guidance document. The announcement last week further specified that the compliance clock would begin counting down from the date that the Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register. The NOA for the guidance is expected to be published in early May 2016.
According to last week’s announcement, the final guidance on menu labeling “responds to many frequently asked questions that the agency has received to date. It differs from the draft guidance by providing additional examples and new or revised questions and answers on topics such as covered establishments, alcoholic beverages, catered events, mobile vendors, grab-and-go items, and record keeping requirements.”
Some restaurants have already moved forward with menu analysis, and even posting of calories. Many more will now need to work closely with nutrition experts to ensure their locations are in compliance prior to the May 2017 deadline.
As part of its announcement on Friday, 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 [email protected].