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National Restaurant Association - Suit to block menu labeling

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Convenience, Grocery and Restaurant Industries File Suit to Block New York City From Overriding FDA Calorie Labeling on Menus

Today, the Restaurant Law Center (RLC), Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), and the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to stop New York City from prematurely enforcing rules requiring calorie and nutrient information prior to a May 2018 compliance date established by the FDA.  The lawsuit claims that New York’s premature enforcement is preempted by federal law.
 
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is deferring enforcement of nationwide menu labeling rules until May 2018, in order to respond to serious industry concerns regarding implementation and to consider possible amendments to alleviate the costs of the rule.  FDA published rules requiring calorie disclosures on menus in 2014, but has decided to delay them in order to work through problems with those rules.
 
The four organizations offered the following comments:
 
“Federal preemption for menu labeling is the law of the land. New York City is overstepping its legal authority in its attempt to enforce menu labeling ahead of the federal compliance date of May 7, 2018.  We expect our preliminary injunction request will be granted to this clear violation of federal law,” said Angelo Amador, Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center. 
 
“The federal law preempts a municipality from taking matters into its own hands, and this is exactly what New York City is attempting to do,” said Jennifer Hatcher, FMI Chief Public Policy Officer. “New York City’s actions threaten interstate commerce and would introduce unneeded elements of confusion into the food retail marketplace.”  
 
“New York City can’t jump the gun and start imposing fines when FDA hasn’t even figured out how disclosures should be made,” said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for NACS.  “Doing that holds stores to standards that no one can meet and undermines the point of having a federal law in the first place.”
 
“It's ridiculous for New York City to force convenience store chains to prematurely incur the costs and logistical burdens associated with menu labeling when federal regulations pre-empt localities from doing so,” said James Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.
 
As part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs asked the court to enter an injunction to stop New York City from enforcing its rules until the federal rules are ready. Unless the court acts, New York City has threatened to start levying fines against retailers and restaurants starting on August 21st. The rules New York City is trying to enforce are impossible to meet. If New York City rushes to fine people based on rules that are contingent upon authorization from FDA, this will not help anyone. 
 
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The Restaurant Law Center is a 501(c)6, founded to defend the restaurant industry against government overregulation on the local, state, and federal level as well as to promote the advancement of the industry through the courts. Angelo Amador serves as the Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center. Amador also currently serves as the senior vice president and regulatory counsel for the National Restaurant Association. To learn more about the Restaurant Law Center and the cases it is currently handling, please visit www.restaurantlawcenter.org. 
 
Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit www.fmi.org and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit www.fmifoundation.org. 
 
NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 160 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.
 
NYACS is a member-driven organization that leads, safeguards, and forges a favorable environment for New York State's diverse, dynamic community of neighborhood convenience stores. NYACS provides return on membership investment by continuously delivering vital knowledge, a unified voice on legislative and regulatory issues, access to business solutions, and ways for members to share ideas, address common challenges, and build relationships.
 

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