FDA Recalls FDA Menu Regulations

FDA watchers may have experienced whiplash last week as the FDA did an about face and postponed restaurant nutritional disclosure regulations that were years in the making. 

In 2014, under the Obama Administration, the FDA enacted regulations that required chain restaurants to disclose “certain nutritional information for standard menu items” to “enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices.” The FDA noted that “two thirds of adults and a third of the children in the United States are overweight or obese” and that “[m]any people do not know, or underestimate, the calorie and nutrient content of…foods from restaurants and similar retail food establishments.” Restaurants and other covered establishments were required to comply with these regulations no later than May 5, 2017. The National Restaurant Association had supported the FDA’s efforts to create a “nationwide federal menu labeling standard….” 

But at the eleventh hour, on May 4, the Trump Administration’s FDA postponed the compliance date to May 7, 2018, so the FDA could “consider how we might further reduce the regulatory burden or increase flexibility while continuing to achieve our regulatory objectives….” The Trump FDA not only postponed the compliance date, but also reopened the comment period, giving the public/other interested parties 60 days to provide public comment

One suspects the restaurant industry must feel like high school students whose teacher just announced that tomorrow’s midterm was just rescheduled from this Friday to probably never.