After nearly two years in the making, a timetable has finally been set for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule to establish requirements for nutrition labeling of standard menu items in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. The United States Office of Management and Budget has set the month of April 2013 as the final action period for implementation of the rule. The rule, formally titled, “Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments (72 FR 19192)” is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010.
“This menu labeling law is going to change the restaurant dining experience,” remarked Lori Stephens, MS, REHS/RS of ABC Research Laboratories. “In essence, every chain restaurant with 20 or more locations must provide certain nutritional information on all menus and menu boards, with additional information available per restaurant guest request depending on the kind of restaurant.”
ABC Research Laboratories, a food safety testing and nutritional labeling laboratory, has been preparing for this date announcement since 2011, and Chief Scientific Officer Gillian Folkes Dagan, Ph.D says that they are ready for restaurants that have been waiting to begin their testing.
“This announcement has been looming on the horizon for the last few years, and we understand that many in the restaurant industry have been hesitating to start labeling their menu items until they were sure there would be no further changes or in case the rule would be repealed,” commented Dr. Dagan. “The announcement of this date means it is time to wake up, smell the coffee, and start preparing your menu items for nutritional labeling. ABC Research saw this coming, and we have taken steps to increase the capacity of our nutritional labeling department so we are prepared to meet the rush as restaurant chains hurry to comply with the rule. We strongly recommend that restaurants begin testing as soon as possible to ensure that they have time to understand the results, make necessary changes, and get the final information to their menus and menu boards”
ABC Research Laboratories, founded in 1967, offers many free resources for the restaurant industry in their Menu Labeling Resource Center at ABCR.com.
The Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments rule can be read in its entirety here.