National Consumers League

NCL statement of opposition to FDA decision to delay the compliance date for menu labeling to May 2018

May 4, 2017

Media contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang, cindyh@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), in response to a decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to delay the compliance date for menu labeling from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018, has issued the following statement, which may be attributed to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

Menu labeling guidelines were first introduced as a provision under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The rules require restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and cafeterias, with more than 20 locations, display calorie counts on their printed menus and posted menu boards.

We are disappointed that the FDA has yielded to industry pressure to extend compliance dates yet another year. Industry lobbyists argue compliance will be complicated and costly. However many chains, such as McDonalds, Panera, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks, have already responded to the proposed rules and very helpfully posted calorie and nutrition information for the benefit of all consumers. Studies have shown that companies that offer voluntary calorie amounts actually offer lower calorie meal options than establishments that don’t disclose nutrition information.

Readily available nutritional information allows consumers to make informed choices about what they and their families consume. Even industry agrees. A report by Unilever found that as many as “67 percent of U.S. diners indicated they wanted to know about fat content and calorie content on menus.” Additional research presented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found: 80 percent of Americans support menu labeling in chain restaurants; 77 percent want calorie labeling at convenience stores; and 81 percent favor having supermarkets provide calorie information for their prepared, restaurant-type foods.

FDA will open a 60-day comment period starting  May 4, 2017. We encourage consumers to submit comments during this period and urge the FDA to enforce menu labeling that gives consumers the nutritional information they want and will use. Additionally, members of Congress are also trying to weaken menu labeling rules. An anti-menu labeling bill named the “Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (S.261/HR.772)" was surreptitiously attached as a rider to the FY2017 appropriations bill. We urge consumers to call their members of Congress in opposition of this misleading bill. Consumers can call them through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.