FDA relaxes restaurants’ menu-labeling rules during coronavirus crisis

Source: National Restaurant Association

As many restaurants and foodservice businesses convert to takeout and delivery, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is temporarily relaxing menu-labeling regulations during the coronavirus health crisis.

The menu-labeling rules were a major component of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010. The rules require chains of 20 or more units to provide nutrition information, including calorie content, for standard items on menus, menu boards, and other point-of-sale materials.

The agency said it was relaxing the rules because of the challenges operators are facing as they try to do business during the crisis. Those challenges include:

  • Creating new menu items that support a takeout- and delivery-only format

  • Making nutrition information available during their rapid transition to takeout and delivery only

  • Menu changes due to ingredient and supply-chain shortages resulting from the health crisis

  • Ability to navigate regulatory compliance with fewer employees on staff due to recent furloughs and layoffs

FDA officials encouraged operators to continue to comply with the rules but said they do not intend to object if restaurants cannot meet the menu-labeling requirements during the health crisis.

“Flexibility in the rules during this national crisis is extremely helpful,” said Laura Abshire, the National Restaurant Association’s director of food nutrition and sustainability policy. “Right now, restaurants are working extremely hard to ensure they are safely serving their customers and taking care of their communities.”