Will you be ready on May 5th, 2017?

In 2014 the FDA gave the retail food service industry some new regulations concerning labeling and nutrition information on menus, on vending machines, and on products. These new regulations went into effect in 2015, but compliance with the new regulations is required no later than May 5th, 2017. How do these new regulations affect your business?

Is your business affected by the new menu and vending machine labeling requirements concerning nutrition? If your business is a restaurant or retail food business that has 20 or more locations doing business under the same name, then the new requirements probably affect your business. This includes, but is not limited to; restaurants, drive-thrus, pizza delivery shops, coffee shops, delicatessens, food trucks, vending machine companies, and even food kiosks inside other businesses. Even if your business is not primarily a retail food service business, but offers similar food products at 20 different locations, your business may still be affected by the new regulations.

What nutritional information is your business required to provide, and how are you required to provide it? The basic information that needs to be provided and the manner in which it needs to be provided or displayed varies depending upon the type of food product you are selling, and manner in which you are selling the product. If you own sit-down restaurants you might be required to provide only the calorie content of the menu item on your printed menu, but you may be required to provide full nutritional information on the menu item in written form upon customer request. Different types of products and different product sales formats have different nutritional labeling and information availability requirements.

What is going to happen on May 5th, 2017? The FDA originally created the new nutritional information labeling regulations in 2014. They later mandated that businesses were required to be compliant with the new regulations by the end of 2016. After some complaints by business organizations and a bit of discussion on the compliance date, the FDA later extended the final compliance date to May 5th, 2017. Any businesses that are affected by these new regulations are required to comply with the new regulations by May 5th, 2017. Does that mean that your chain of restaurants will be shut down on May 6th if your menus do not have the right nutritional information? Probably not, but you should definitely do your best to comply with the new regulations as swiftly as possible.

What sort of legal trouble will you face if you are found to be in violation of the new regulations and requirements? That depends upon the enforcement strategies and protocols that are developed in response to these new requirements. Even if there are no set punishments or penalties for specific violations published yet, it does not mean that you will not run into trouble by ignoring these requirements. It is probably better to comply with the new regulations and be safe now, rather than face an unknown penalty or consequence later.

What about the state and local laws that already require our business to provide certain nutritional information? It is true that the regulations and requirements provided by the FDA supercede the state and local laws, but that does not mean that you can ignore state and local regulations and requirements. Your business should make a reasonable effort to comply with state and local requirements while also maintaining compliance with the FDA regulations. In an instance where FDA regulations seem to conflict with state or local regulations, technically the FDA regulations would probably take precedence, but your state and local agencies might not always agree.

If you would like to learn more about the new FDA requirements that might be affecting your business, you can visit www.fda.gov and search on "Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements". You could also visit our website at www.EpicuresInc.com and send us a message, or give us a call. We will do our best to help you in any way that we can.