FDA enforces rules about information to consumers for food service

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  • December 19, 2014

FDA enforces rules about information to consumers for food service

Following European INCO regulations, these new FDA rules are aligned with consumers' health concerns. New food service labeling will provide consumers with more nutritional information about food and beverage they consume in restaurants. The menu labeling regulation also requires food chains to provide nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans-fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein. These new rules will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.

Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest explained that menu labeling is “the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago”.

Who is concerned

The FDA finalized rules requiring calorie information to be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines. The law will apply only for chains with 20 or more locations in the U.S. The menu labeling rule also includes food facilities in entertainment venue chains such as movie theaters and amusement parks.

What is the new regulation based on?

To make these rules as accurate as possible, the FDA considered more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers to better fit consumers' needs. They also consider the INCO regulation from Europe insisting on a standard labeling for food and beverage products. Some states, localities and large restaurant chains are already doing their own forms of menu labeling, but for the consumers to easily understand new labeling, a consistent nation-wide standard will apply to food businesses.

How long do restaurant chains and vending machines have to comply with these new rules?

Retail food establishments will have one year to comply with the menu labeling requirements. Vending machine operators will have two years.

Introduction to new labeling for the entire food and beverage industry?

FDA also made adjustments such as ensuring flexibility for multi-serving dishes. For instance, pizza will be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie. It echoes a proposal made by the FDA in collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama last February. It suggested updating the nutrition facts label for on-shelf packaged foods. It may be the beginning of national health awareness in the U.S.

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