FDA Issues Food-Labeling Regulations

KFC_fast_food_menu_board.5480a6d41a136The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued nutrition labeling regulations for restaurants and "similar retail food establishments." In an extremely long description, the FDA outlines requirements, including these provisions: 

  • Define terms, including terms that describe criteria for determining whether an establishment is subject to the rule;
  • Require that calories for standard menu items be declared on menus and menu boards that list such foods for sale;
  • Require that calories for standard menu items that are self-service or on display be declared on signs adjacent to such foods;
  • Require that written nutrition information for standard menu items be available to consumers who ask to see it;
  • Require, on menus and menu boards, a succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake (succinct statement), designed to help the public understand the significance of the calorie declarations;
  • Require, on menus and menu boards, a statement regarding the availability of the written nutrition information (statement of availability);
  • Establish requirements for determination of nutrient content of standard menu items;
  • Establish requirements for substantiation of nutrient content determined for standard menu items, including requirements for records that a covered establishment must make available to FDA within a reasonable period of time upon request; and
  • Establish terms and conditions under which restaurants and similar retail food establishments not otherwise subject to the rule could elect to be subject to the requirements by registering with FDA.

The regulations have been drafted for years, and the new rules apply to restaurants with 20 or more locations serving similar food. One sticking point is about alcohol. Self-service drinks, such as bottled beer, as well as drinks on a standard menu all need to be labeled. 

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • Read the FDA's regulations. How are they organized and written? What could be improved for restaurant owners and managers? 
  • What's your view of the new labeling regulations? What do you see as the goals, and will labels accomplish them?