Now that the new year is here we thought we would update you on the deadlines for the nutrition label changes. There are two for labels: the one that is for menus and the other one is for food packages. Plus one for revoking the soy claim.
The label requirement for menus will be in place by May of 2018. The rule for package labels is already in place but there are changes to the format to make it more readable along with the requirement to tell consumers how much added sugar is in their foods.
The FDA has also announced they are looking into revoking the health claim allowed for soy and the reduction of heart disease risk because studies proceeding the claim are inconsistent.
An original FDA rule proposed by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that would mandate grocery stores, chain restaurants, convenience stores and other food sellers to list calorie counts on their menus has been postponed until 2018. The rule, which was to go into effect 8-18-17 has been put on hold after a last-minute suspension from the US Food and Drug Administration. Businesses that sell food and have 20 or more locations will have until May 7, 2018 to post calories. 1
Pending completion of this rulemaking, FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the current July 26, 2018, and July 26, 2019, compliance dates.
FDA has issued a proposed rule 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.
Public health advocates have embraced the labeling requirement as they believe consumers who see calorie counts before purchasing food tend to buy less calorie-dense foods. Critics of the rule argue the rule didn’t allow enough latitude for food sellers that are not restaurants. The rule was challenged by trade groups that represent supermarkets, pizza chains, convenience stores and bakeries who complained that the regulations should be modified to include the various ways Americans purchase their food.
The Trump administration was petitioned by menu labeling opponents requesting to delay the rule and pushed for passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. This bill would remove some of the regulations and limit others. It would permit variable serving sizes and let food companies that do mostly online ordering (such as pizza restaurants), post calories only on their web sites. 2 The bill has passed the House, but has not been voted on in the Senate.
For years, Domino’s Pizza and the trade group it formed to challenge the regulations, have argued that calorie count posting on menu boards does not make sense for food sellers who do most of their sales via delivery. About 90% of Domino’s orders are made outside of the store. Tim McIntyre, chairman of the Domino’s Pizza-backed American Pizza Community states, “We’re very pleased that our voices have been heard, but there is still more work to do”. 3
Many businesses had already spent money to print new menu boards to get in compliance because the rule had made it so close to the “compliance date”. A single menu board can vary in cost from $500 to $2000, and cost can increase depending on the size of the chain.
Many area chains in Chicago including Portillo’s, Naf Naf Grill and Jewel-Osco have voiced that they were awaiting the deadline to modify their menu boards. Jimmy John’s recently adjusted old menus with calorie counts. Naf Naf Grill co-CEO David Sloan mentioned that the chain has not yet decided to use new menu boards immediately, despite paying over $17,000 for them.
Regulations for public comment have been opened by the FDA, who is requesting “approaches to reduce regulatory burden or increase flexibility” particularly for calorie postings on buffets and grab-and-go food stations, in addition to effective ways to provide information on calories beyond a menu board.
In addition to restaurant menu boards posting calories, the new food label for packaged foods will be adding more consumer information. Added sugars and percent Daily Value for sugar will be included so consumers can decipher what sugar is added VS natural (think of yogurt). This change goes along with the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans to consume 10% or less of calories from added sugars. 4
Seeing calories on menu boards and added sugars on labels may encourage consumers to think twice about what they’re ordering and eating. Sometimes an innocent salad can surprise you. Knowledge is power. Do you really want to sabotage your efforts at good health with excess calories or sugar-laden food and beverages? Probably not.
From the FDA press release, "While some evidence continues to suggest a relationship between soy protein and a reduced risk of heart disease – including evidence reviewed by the FDA when the claim was authorized – the totality of currently available scientific evidence calls into question the certainty of this relationship. For example, some studies, published after the FDA authorized the health claim, show inconsistent findings concerning the ability of soy protein to lower heart-damaging low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Our review of that evidence has led us to conclude that the relationship between soy protein and heart disease does not meet the rigorous standard for an FDA-authorized health claim."
Submitted by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
We will keep you posted! If you need food label education materials you can find them here: