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National Restaurant Association - Gov’t serves notice: Menu labeling in final review

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Gov’t serves notice: Menu labeling in final review

After several postponements and delays, the federal government said it moved the menu labeling piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to the final step in the review process.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it moved the regulation, which calls for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to list calorie information on menus and menu boards, and provide certain other nutrition data upon request,to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for review.

“The OMB has the rule,” said Joan McGlockton, the National Restaurant Association’s vice president of food policy. “Once the process is completed, the final regulation will be published and become public. However, the law will not become effective at that time. We anticipate chain restaurants will have at least six months to one year to implement the law once the final regulation is published.”

McGlockton also said the NRA would provide analysis of the final regulation once it is published so restaurateurs would have a better understanding of what is required to comply with the law.

The FDA’s proposed menu-labeling regulations were released in 2011 as part of the health care law. In addition to requiring chains to post caloric information, the law also states that information on fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber and protein, also would have to be made available to customers, in writing, upon request.

In 2011, the NRA provided extensive comments to the FDA on the proposed regulation, seeking more flexibility and protection for restaurateurs who make good-faith efforts to comply with the law.

A report in PoliticoPro said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told lawmakers at a recent House appropriations agriculture subcommittee hearing that the agency aimed to strike a balance between providing consumers with information without unnecessarily placing a burden on businesses.

A summary of the proposed rules can be found on the FDA’s website.

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