The FDA finalized its restaurant menu labeling guidance with the implementation of the FDA menu labeling ruling effective May 7, 2018. These new FDA menu labeling requirements specifically refer to restaurants and eating establishments that meet the criteria listed below. This new ruling is also known as the restaurant nutrition information law or the menu calorie labeling law. FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D. states:
As of the May 2018 decision, 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 want to order.
In anticipation of this rule being enacted on May 7, 2018 (FDA menu labeling effective date), many chain restaurants and other retail eating establishments (e.g. MacDonald’s, Red Robin, Ruth’s Chris) have already implemented the requirements for restaurant menu labeling. All other restaurants that have not yet complied have until May 2019 to effectively meet the requirements of the law.
In summary, any restaurant chain, franchise or vending establishment with 20 or more locations operating under the same name with a same or similar menu offering is required to comply with FDA menu labeling requirements. Each location must clearly state on menus or menu boards the calorie information for each item as well as a notice that additional nutritional information is available upon request.
This is, however, only one component 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 published their Nutrition Innovation Strategy. It’s objective is 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.
The final ruling on the NEW Nutrition Facts Panel has been announced today. The changed facts panel is an effort to reduce America’s increasing obesity rates and related diseases. Michelle Obama, who has been a fervent supporter of the revised nutrition facts, made the announcement today during the Partnership for a Healthier America summit.
In the next few days, we will be putting together a more comprehensive review of the changes and the impacts they will have on your food business. But for now, here are some of the key points:
·Compliance date is July 26, 2018; however, an additional year will be given for food manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales.
·“Added Sugar” declaration will be included.
·Calories and servings will be more prominent.
·Updated serving sizes for the RACC to come.
·Dual Column labels will be required for foods with the RACC of 200% to 300%.
·New nutrients Vitamin D and Potassium to be added (Vitamins A & C no longer required).
What should you do now?
Just hold tight a few more days. The industry was just sent out the guidance late this morning. As of today, the updated software is not available for us to produce the new label. We are awaiting an announcement from Esha, our analysis software company, regarding the timeline for the updates to come through.
Meanwhile, we will be pouring over the new regulations and will have more details coming to you early next week.
Although, no exact date has been announced by the FDA, our sources tell us that this should happen by the end of this month. The final ruling is expected to come out by the end of May. What does this mean for your food business and what should you be doing at this point?
1.) First thing to do...don’t panic! You will have plenty of time to swap out to the new label. In the FDA’s proposal, food manufacturers will have two years to comply. You would be expected to make the change when going to reprint on labels and packaging – within that two year period. In addition, the FDA has also proposed giving the industry six months to prepare for the change prior to the start of the two-year compliance window.
2.) Understand the proposed changes and the potential impact on your current packaging and marketing efforts. If all of the proposals go through, then this will be a very significant change to the layout and size of foot print, as well as new additional nutrients that will need to be tracked. It is important to begin to understand the scope of these changes and how it will affect your current marketing of your food product. We have put together a helpful infographic that provides an overview of the proposed changes. Click here for the infographic.
3.) Gather your team and begin the discussions. If you haven’t had meetings already within your company about the upcoming nutrition label change, then now is a great time to start. Everybody on your team should become familiar with the proposed changes. Purchasing should forecast label and packaging inventory to plan when to change out; marketing should understand how the foot print size and other changes will affect the entire label /package layout; and R&D needs to understand the new nutrients added and if there will be any impact on Nutrition or Health Claims.
We, here at RL Food Testing, are excited that the final ruling is almost in and we are ready to help your food business navigate through these changes. Whether you are a long-time customer or new to our family business, we will be able to update your nutrition facts when all is finalized.
The FDA announced in June that it will begin mandating American food companies to oversee the removal of partially-hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from their products. Food manufacturers will have 3 years to remove PHO's (Partially Hydrogenated Oils) from their foods. As a major source of artificial trans fats, the presence of PHOs in processed foods has been the source of a decades-long debate regarding whether or not they meet the FDA’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) designation. Food manufacturers have the option to petition the FDA for approval of certain usage of PHO's. Approval must be granted, otherwise all PHO's must be removed by the end of the 3 year period.
The FDA’s 2006 mandate to make national food labels more transparent spurred a national conversation about the outright ban of PHOs and trans fats. The FDA originally announced their plan to ban trans fats in November, 2013. This most recent announcement takes a definitive stance on the issue, and provides American food manufacturers with a three-year grace period to adjust their ingredients and submit any potential alternatives to the FDA for testing and compliance.
LDL: A Smoking Gun
A central component of the FDA’s case rests in the findings of the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM), which connected the consumption of PHOs with elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream, which elevates the risk of coronary heart disease. A statement released by the Institute concluded, “transfat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Additionally, the IOM recommends that consumption of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.”
From Transparent Food Labeling to an Outright Ban
In the constant battle between government regulators, public policy advocates, and the food manufacturing industry, many advocates speak to the efficacy of the decision, citing the decline of trans fat intake among American consumers from 4.6 daily grams in 2003 to roughly 1 gram per diem in 2012.
A Victory for Public Health, A Setback for the Private Sector
“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of transfat.” Hamburg elaborated that further reduction of trans fats in American diets could reduce heart attacks nationwide by up to 20,000 and preventable deaths from heart disease by up to 7,000 per annum.
While many in the public health sphere view the new regulations as a landmark victory in the public health sector, the American food manufacturing industry will not likely view the measure as kindly. For them, the new requirements mean untold dollars that must be spent in research and development, as well as in marketing and repackaging for certain products.