U.S. chain restaurants get one more year to display calorie counts

July 13, 2015 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends, Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition Topics in the News

U.S. chain restaurants get one more year to display calorie counts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it would extend the deadline for chain restaurants to disclose calorie counts on menus by a year to Dec. 1, 2016.

The FDA set a national standard for restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets late in 2014, to raise awareness about the risk of obesity posed by fatty, sugary foods as part of the Affordable Care Act.

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The calorie rule covers meals at sit-down restaurants, take-out food, bakery items, ice cream from an ice-cream store and pizza, which will be labeled by the slice and whole pizza.

They were required to display calories on all menus and menu boards by Dec. 1, 2015.

The rule also includes movie theaters, amusement parks, large vending machine operators and alcoholic beverages served in restaurants, but not drinks mixed or served at a bar.

The extension was the result of establishments' requests for clarity in some areas of ambiguity. "For instance, if you have a bottle of wine on your menu, do you have to put calorie counts for the entire bottle, or do you put it by the glass?"

The labeling of combo-meals, promotional items, and how the FDA plans to enforce the rule are other areas of uncertainty.

At the time of publication in December last year, the FDA had given restaurants one year and vending machine operators two years to comply with the rule.

Since then, industry, trade and other associations, have asked for an additional year to comply.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who was the chief sponsor of menu-labeling legislation for nearly a decade, said she had urged the FDA to ensure there are no more delays.

"...Between the rule and FDA's efforts, industry has more than enough information to implement menu labeling," she said in a statement.

To keep the process moving, the FDA plans to issue in August a draft guidance to answer frequently asked questions the agency has received to assist covered establishments in complying with the rule, it said.

Panera Bread Co was the first company to voluntarily display calorie information at all its cafes nationwide in 2010.

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