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Wednesday, July 15, 2015 2:12:00 PM
By Betsy Craig, Digital Signage Today
I have heard the rumblings since early May, but today it is official: The menu labeling mandate is now set to begin Dec. 1, 2016, one year after the previous 2015 deadline.
What this means for the industry depends on your position within it. The National Restaurant Association came out with a statement on its support of the delay.
From the NRA:
"The National Restaurant Association has long supported 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 FDA 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."
One thing the delay does is give the FDA time to figure out from the top down some of the finer details of the menu labeling legislation. There were a number of questions left to be answered on details of the regulations. For example, alcohol labeling (included out of nowhere) and pizza serving sizes can be further addressed. The pizza segment's variables in shape, size, range and toppings made it more difficult for the more than 700,000 locations to conform to a one-size-fits-all approach. This led to a ton of questions in regard to the correct labeling of Chicago-style pizza, specifically surrounding pizza slices that are square cut rather than triangle.
Other questions loomed concerning serving sizes, what constitutes a soda size and how many ounces must restaurant operators display. Additionally, there are questions surrounding which organization will be the enforcing body and/or what the penalties will be for noncompliance. Giving everyone another 12 months will make things much clearer and easier for all concerned.
The extended deadline is great news for restaurant operators who had not yet taken the steps to meet the December 2015 deadline. This will give everyone more time to plan, craft and carry out their menu labeling strategies.