The FDA has finalized its guidance on menu labeling with the labeling rule being implemented on May 7, 2018 for restaurants and eating establishments. FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D. states:
Starting today, this information will be required throughout the country as the FDA’s menu labeling rule is implemented. Consumers walking into eating establishments covered under the rule will know how many calories are in the foods they may want to order.
In anticipation of this rule being enacted, many chain restaurants and other retail eating sites (e.g. MacDonald’s, Red Robin) have already implemented the calorie labeling requirement. This is, however, only the beginning of a labeling overhaul that the FDA has undertaken. Its rules regarding changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and Serving Size are also in place and will by fully implemented by January 1, 2021.
From their announcement in September, 2017:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply—until Jan. 1, 2021.
Earlier this year, the FDA put forth their Nutrition Innovation Strategy. It aims to provide consumers with science-based and qualified health claims—meaningful claims that are understandable, and ones that they can trust. Commissioner Gottlieb asserts:
FDA’s new policy aims to provide all Americans with easier access to nutritious, affordable foods by arming consumers with information and encouraging the food industry to innovate in producing the healthier foods that today’s informed consumer wants. The Nutrition Innovation Strategy will modernize claims like “healthy” on food packages, modernize how we establish standards of identity for foods, make ingredient information on labels easier to decipher, help streamline the process for establishing qualified health claims on food labels, and encourage companies to reduce sodium in their products.
By making more substantive links between food and nutrition, key imperatives are emerging to ensure that claims are anchored to the latest nutritional science. An important element in this link is being transparent and rigorous in testing the food being offered to consumers by its providers and manufacturers. RL Testing Laboratory specializes in such testing and can be an effective partner for its clients who are on the forefront of implementing the new FDA guidelines.