The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 9 announced that it is delaying by one year the date by which restaurants and similar retail food establishments, including many truckstop operations, must comply with federal menu labeling requirements.
Under the revised timeline, establishments will not be required to comply with the menu labeling rules until Dec. 1, 2016.
NATSO supports FDA’s delay, as it provides truckstop operators much-needed time to develop compliance plans. However, NATSO continues to urge policymakers to change the rules to make compliance less burdensome.
NATSO supports legislation in Congress that would accomplish this objective without seriously compromising consumers’ ability to receive nutrition information.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 2017), sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), would make it easier for covered establishments to comply with the menu labeling rules, while also revising the FDA’s enforcement regime to avoid excessive, unpredictable punishments for alleged violations.
Specifically, H.R 2017 would, among other things:
- Permit covered establishments to declare a single writing as their primary menu, thereby avoiding situations where food retailers have to create new signs to be placed in all areas of a store wherever food or beverages are available;
- Provide food retailers greater flexibility in providing calorie information for items with multiple servings and “variable menu items” (such as sandwiches that customers can tailor to their own liking);
- Prohibit FDA from punishing retailers for violations in the event of inadvertent human error and/or reasonable variations in serving sizes and ingredients;
- Bar plaintiffs’ lawyers from filing class action lawsuits to enforce the menu labeling rules, instead only allowing enforcement by the federal government or a state;
- Limit the possibility of individual store managers from being punished for non-compliance, including potential felony charges.
NATSO has learned that the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health is planning to hold a markup to consider the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act in the coming weeks. NATSO will continue urging lawmakers to pass this important legislation, even though the FDA has delayed the compliance deadline.
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