The new labeling requirements for restaurant menus came into effect on December 1, or maybe not.
Forty-eight hours before this date, the Food and Drug Administration issued a “clarifying” notice that December 1 is now the date for “compliance” with the regulations, and not May 5, 2017, as set by the FDA. in May 2016.
In no time, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf felt a blunt force behind his back from the boots of the members of Congress who shouted foul.
“The FDA’s action is outrageous,” said Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO. “You already know that the effective date fails any reasonableness test and should not stand. “
Another letter contains 16 signatures from U.S. lawmakers led by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, who chairs the House Republican Conference. He calls the FDA action “reckless” and says it violates Congress’ intent. The action of the FDA is a “fly by night” change that cannot be sustained.
Then, after 48 hours of “confusion,” Califf chose to re-clarify the matter with the FDA by issuing a statement.
The United States Food and Drug Administration announced today (December 2) that it will soon publish a final rule to officially extend to May 5, 2017, the date of compliance with the agency’s labeling regulations. 2014 menus, which requires disclosure of certain nutritional information for standard menu items in certain restaurant chains and similar retail food establishments. This extension will align the compliance date with the application date, ”Califf said.
The positive response from the powerful National Restaurant Association (NRA) quickly followed that of Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of government affairs and policy.
“The National Restaurant Association applauds the FDA for releasing this important clarification regarding menu labeling,” she said.
“We have long advocated for a nationwide federal menu labeling standard that gives customers access to consistent nutrition information in restaurants, which provides certainty for restaurateurs and foodservice operators on the mosaic of national and local laws. Today’s announcement by the FDA gives the restaurant industry the time it needs to empower its customers to make the best choices for themselves.
For his part, Califf, who calls on President-elect Trump to retain him as FDA commissioner, said the FDA statements that fueled the political dusting of the 48 hours before Dec. 1 can now be dismissed.
“This constitutive update supersedes all previous statements by the FDA regarding the date of compliance with menu labeling regulations,” read the FDA statement of December 2.
He explains what happens this way: “Section 747 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed on December 18, 2015, prohibited the FDA from using allocated funds to implement, administer or enforce requirements. labeling of menus for up to a year after the FDA issued final guidelines. for industry on menu labeling requirements. On May 5, 2016, the FDA released the final guidelines and announced in the Federal Register that the application of the menu labeling rule would begin on May 5, 2017.
“Although the FDA made it clear that it would not begin enforcing menu labeling requirements until May 5, 2017, the FDA did not at that time formally change the compliance date through rulemaking So the compliance date was officially December 1, 2016, as communicated in our Constituents Update of November 29, 2016. To align the official compliance date with the effective date, the FDA announces now that it will issue a final rule to officially extend the compliance date until May 5, 2017. ”
The NRA’s statement did not address the obvious. Menu labeling, which is required by the Affordable Care Act, may well disappear altogether with the next Congress, which has made the “repeal and replacement” of the Obamacare Act a priority. Pushing back the compliance date means there will be plenty of time for this to happen.
The FDA cost estimate for menu labeling was $ 1,000 to $ 1,800 per restaurant. The National Restaurant Association represents approximately one million restaurants in the United States.
As drafted, the new menu labeling requirements include listing the calorie content of foods sold by restaurants and other food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations doing business. under the same name and offering substantially the same menu items.
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