House Committee Advances Changes to Menu Labeling Law
- Over the past several years, FDA has been in the process of implementing menu labeling provisions added to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by the Affordable Care Act. Under the new requirements, restaurants or similar retail food establishments (in chains of 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and selling substantially similar menu items) must provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items. The menu labeling requirements originally were scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2015. The compliance date has since been delayed until May 8, 2018.
- In the meantime, Congress has been considering legislation to modify the menu labeling requirements to provide flexibility in determining how to disclose nutrition information. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (772/S.261) was introduced in the House by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) on January 31, 2017, and in the Senate by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME) on February 1, 2017.
- On Thursday, July 27, 2017, The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill would allow restaurants and grocery retailers the choice of listing calories for the whole menu item, by serving, or per “common unit” of a food item. The bill also provides additional flexibility on where establishments can post calorie information. More specifically, under the proposed bill, nutritional information may be provided solely by a remote-access menu (e.g., an Internet menu) for food establishments where the majority of orders are placed by customers who are off-premises.
- Given the bipartisan support for this bill, to date, combined with the flexibilities afforded to industry under its provisions, this bill stands a good chance of ultimately becoming law.
© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 215