WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has extended the compliance date to Dec. 1, 2016, from Dec. 1, 2015, for its final rule requiring that certain restaurants and retail establishments disclose certain nutrition information for standard menu items. The F.D.A. this August plans to issue a draft guidance document designed to answer frequently asked questions about the rule.
The F.D.A. said it received requests asking for an extension because of the various steps needed to meet the rule. The steps include developing software, information systems and other technologies for providing information. Other steps are training staff, implementing standard operating procedures, and developing and installing updated and consistent menu boards across all locations within a chain.
“The final rule requirements are intended to ensure that consumers are provided accurate, clear and consistent nutrition information for foods sold in covered establishments in a direct and accessible manner to enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices,” the F.D.A. said. “Therefore, allowing adequate time for covered establishments to fully implement the final rule’s requirements, as described in the requests, helps accomplish the primary objective of the final rule and is in the public interest.”
The Washington-based National Restaurant Association said it supports a nationwide, uniform menu-labeling standard for chain restaurants that provides flexibility for restaurants and preempts a patchwork of state and local laws.
“As the F.D.A. prepares further guidance, we continue to work with the agency to address issues of concern for the restaurant industry and ensure a smooth transition for restaurants and consumers alike,” the N.R.A. said.While the F.D.A. announced the compliance date extension on July 9, a Federal Register notice had yet to be published on that date. The final rule, which originally appeared in the Federal Register on Dec. 1, 2014, requires that calories for standard menu items be declared on menus and menu boards that list such foods for sale. The final rule defined a “covered establishment” as a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is a part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (regardless of the type of ownership) and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.