After several delays, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to enforce regulations that require disclosure of nutrition information for menu items in certain retail food establishments beginning on May 7, 2018 and has published guidance to effectuate timely compliance.

Why Now?

In May, the FDA postponed the compliance date for the menu labeling regulations until May 7, 2018. In response to the FDA’s delay, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the National Consumers League sued the FDA.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved an agreement among the parties to put the lawsuit on hold so long as the FDA confirms that the menu labeling rules compliance date will be May 7, 2018, and the FDA publishes draft guidance to help retail food establishments understand how to comply with the menu labeling regulations.

In anticipation of the long-awaited compliance date and in furtherance of the above agreement, on November 8, 2017, the FDA released draft guidance for nutrition and menu labeling and calorie disclosures in a user-friendly Q&A format with several examples and graphic depictions of practical ways to comply with the regulations.

What’s in the Guidance?

The primary focus of the FDA’s supplemental guidance is to address concerns raised by the public and various stakeholders in the industry regarding the implementation of nutrition and menu labeling regulations and to reiterate its intention for flexible compliance. This guidance is also being distributed with the dual-intent to serve as an open forum for commentary from interested parties and the public. Commentary will be considered by the FDA in crafting and rolling out final regulations.

The Guidance touches on a broad array of topics, including calorie disclosures on signage and menu boards, methods of providing calorie information, determining nutrient content for standard menu items, and criteria to distinguish between menu items and marketing materials.

FDA Menu Labeling: Supplemental Guidance for Industry Draft Guidance is available here.