Health Care Reform Bill
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. This health care reform legislation includes a provision, Section 4205, requiring mandatory nutrition labeling for food sold at chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with over 20 locations.
This uniform national nutrition standard is endorsed by the NRA to prevent a patchwork of state and local regulations. States and localities would not be able to require additional nutrient information on menus.
In August 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presented a Draft Guidance for Industry which provided questions and answers regarding implementation of the menu labeling provisions of section 4205. Due, in part, to the extensive comments they received on their draft guidance, the Food and Drug Administration acknowledged that the restaurant industry might require more guidance and time to comply with the provisions that went into effect when the bill was signed last March. They have withdrawn the draft and have told state and local authorities not to enforce the regulations until the final rule is published later on this year.
In April 2011 the FDA announced its proposed rules implementing the menu labeling provisions of last year’s health care reform law. They are currently accepting comments which they plan to review and then issue a final rule later this year. Rules are not expected to be reinforced until sometime in 2012.
What we have learned with the April draft is—as expected—restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more establishments will be required to post calorie information on their menus and make additional nutrition data available to customers requesting this information. Examples of these establishments include bakeries, grocery store, convenience stores, coffee shops, ice cream parlors and cafeterias. However, movie theaters, airplanes and bowling alleys are exempt because according to the FDA their primary business is not to sell food.
Of interest, alcoholic beverages will be exempt from nutrition labeling.
On The Menu is keeping close tabs on section 4205 and will provide updated information as it is available on this page and on our blog. This document provides a summary of the legislation. Please contact us with any questions. We are dedicated to keeping you informed.