After Pressure from McCaskill, FDA Delays Certain Menu Labeling Requirements

FDA responds to Senator’s call to extend deadline for menu-labeling requirements in supermarkets, grocery stores, retail locations

WASHINGTON – After the urging of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced a one-year delay in new menu labeling requirements for supermarkets, grocery stores, and similar retail locations.

The new deadline for compliance is set for December 1, 2016. Earlier this year McCaskill sent two bipartisan letters to the U.S Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services calling for such a delay. 

“Making policy that works and gives flexibility to businesses, starts with listening,” said McCaskill. “Today, the FDA listened. I’m glad they did.”

The establishments affected by the rule, which sell some food for in-store consumption, have never before been regulated under menu labeling laws and had not been given adequate time or guidance to comply with the requirements which were issued on December 1, 2014.

In McCaskill’s letters, she pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration did not provide adequate answers to questions or guidance for stakeholders impacted, especially supermarkets and grocery stores, to comply with the rule’s then-deadline of December 1, 2015. The FDA’s most recent announcement makes clear it heeded McCaskill’s call to further engage with the entire industry of stakeholders impacted by the menu labeling regulations in order to address outstanding issues and concerns.

The requirements stem from a provision in the Affordable Care Act that calls for a national, uniform nutrition disclosure standard for foodservice establishments, primarily intended for restaurants. The FDA first released draft regulations to implement this provision in 2011; however, the agency also unexpectedly incorporated grocery and convenience stores because of the food sold at deli counters, snack bars, salad bars, and other in-store options. By delaying the implementation and compliance date by at least a year, the agency has more time to work with grocery stores, supermarkets, and other similar businesses to provide them with formal guidance to ensure that they fully understand and can comply with the regulations.

In an effort to protect these businesses from unnecessary and burdensome regulation McCaskill has, on multiple occasions, challenged regulators’ approaches to regulating non-restaurants. Last year, McCaskill asked the Office of Management and Budget to review nutrition labeling regulations to ensure that any measure adopted allowed flexibility for restaurants and avoided unnecessarily burdening food retail establishments where nutrition information is already prevalent 

In 2011, McCaskill asked the FDA to narrow the scope of the menu-labeling requirements to establishments that have 50 percent or more of their floor space devoted to “restaurant or restaurant type-food.” McCaskill has repeatedly gone to bat for Missouri businesses—preventing burdensome regulations on St. Louis-based manufacturer Unico Systems, as well as leading a successful fight against unnecessary EPA regulations that would have negatively impacted Ste. Genevieve-based manufacturer Holcim.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/jobs to learn more about McCaskill’s fight to boost job opportunities for Missouri.

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