The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Federal Register notice on July 10 that extends the compliance date for menu labeling in certain restaurants and retail food establishments. The final rule was published on December 1, 2014 and established a compliance date of December 1, 2015. The notice extends the compliance date one year from December 1, 2015 to December 1, 2016.
FDA stated that the decision to provide the extension was influenced by requests from large retailers and trade associations seeking additional time to develop new software, information systems, staff training programs, standard operating procedures, and consistent menu boards, and it acknowledged that it had yet to provide sufficiently detailed public guidance in this area. FDA also stated that the compliance date extension was also to address its concern that consumers receive accurate, clear, and consistent nutrition information for foods sold in covered establishments. Thus, FDA believes that the extension will help achieve the final rule’s original purpose—to provide consumers with accurate nutritional information to help reduce obesity and promote public health. Nevertheless, the scope and potential effect of the labeling requirement, particularly on those qualified facilities that market a wide variety of food choices, will continue to be a point of controversy throughout this extended compliance period.