- Posted by Admin
- On September 12, 2017
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- ACA, FDA, food policy, Joon H. Kim, Mary T. Bassett, Menu Labeling, NYC, Scott Gottlieb
By Sabrina Kim, University of Virginia
On August 16, 2017, United States Government attorneys filed a statement of interest aimed at halting New York City’s menu labeling law (Kim, 2017). The dispute over the menu labeling law comes after the new administration delayed the federal version for one year, now scheduled to come into effect in May of 2018 (Menu Labeling Requirements, n.d.).
Menu labeling was introduced in chain restaurants and retail food stores after the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). This amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations to visibly provide nutritional information for the consumer (Food Labeling, 2014).
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) created a set of menu labeling regulations, which were originally finalized in December 2014. The City of New York was the first city to create its own menu labeling law in 2008, with an updated version passing in 2015, although enforcement of the updated law was delayed to coincide with the enforcement of the identical federal ruling (De Blasio, 2017).
Despite the Administration’s decision to delay the federal compliance date by one year, the City of New York decided to enforce its own labeling law as planned (De Blasio, 2017). Soon after, a group of trade organizations including the Food Marketing Institute, the National Association of Convenience Stores, and the Restaurant Law Center, sued New York City on the grounds that the federal law “prevents a municipality from taking matters into its own hands” (Convenience, 2017).
The statement of interest filed by Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, bolsters this claim, arguing that only Congress and the FDA have the proper authority to create and enforce menu labeling legislation (Poinski, 2017).
New York City Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett expressed disappointment regarding the federal government’s position, arguing that “the FDA has taken the position that chains can stop providing customers with critical nutrition information.” At the time of writing, the FDA has reiterated its intention to maintain the May 2018 compliance date (Neuman, 2017). Additionally, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced on August 25, 2017 that the FDA would release new guidelines to help businesses comply with the menu labelling law by the end of 2017 in order to help restaurants meet the May 2018 compliance date (Statement, 2017).
New York City’s effort to enforce their own menu labelling requirements raises the question, will other cities follow suit? While the delays of the menu labelling compliance date may motivate cities to take action and draft their own date, the fear of a similar lawsuit could encourage municipalities to wait and utilize the forthcoming guidance to adhere to federal standards.
Convenience, Grocery, and Restaurant Industries File Suit to Block New York City From Overriding FDA Calorie Labeling on Menus. (2017, July 14). Retrieved from https://www.fmi.org/newsroom/latest-news/view/2017/07/14/convenience-grocery-and-restaurant-industries-file-suit-to-block-new-york-city-from-overriding-fda-calorie-labeling-on-menus
De Blasio Administration Announces New Calorie Labeling Rules. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/about/press/pr2017/calorie-label-rules.page
FDA to align menu-labeling compliance, enforcement. (2016, December 2). Retrieved from http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/FDA-to-align-menu-labeling-compliance-enforcement
Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments. (2014, November). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/UCM423985.pdf
Kim, J. (2017, August 14). Statement of Interest of the United States of America. Retrieved from http://static.politico.com/2a/a6/e100e8c34a06bc078cdd72797f69/fdas-aug-14-motion-in-restaurant-groups-challenge-to-new-york-citys-menu-labeling-law.PDF
Menu Labeling Requirements. (2017, May). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm515020.htm
Neuman, W. (2017, August 15). F.D.A. Urges Court to Block New York City’s Calorie Count Law. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/nyregion/fda-new-york-city-calorie-count.html
Poinski, M. (2017, August 16). FDA supports lawsuit to halt New York menu labeling law. Retrieved from http://www.fooddive.com/news/grocery–fda-supports-lawsuit-to-halt-new-york-menu-labeling-law/449403/
Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the FDA’s role in ensuring Americans have access to clear and consistent calorie and nutrition information; forthcoming guidance will provide greater clarity and certainty. (2017, August 25). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm573277.htm