The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Menu Labeling Rule, which was set to go into effect on May 5, 2017, has been delayed. The Menu Labeling Rule called for businesses in the food service industry (e.g. restaurants, grocery and convenience stores) with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menu boards. This would apply to most food service franchise systems. The Rule is now set to go into effect on May 7, 2018.
Supporters of the Rule argue that if shown the calorie counts of menu items, consumers will make healthier choices. They also argue that having federal protection and a more streamlined approach will help food service businesses who are currently burdened by the patchwork of state and city menu labeling laws. Critics of the Rule argue that the cost of replacing menu boards is too burdensome on business owners. They also argue that the Rule causes uncertainty and confusion and ignores the differences between implementation in different types of food service businesses. The FDA began a public comment period starting May 4, 2017 to address these issues.
The delay has caused frustration for franchisors and restaurant owners who invested in preparing for compliance with the Menu Labeling Rule, and relief for franchisors and restaurant owners who had not. If you have any questions or concerns about how this delay affects your business, please contact your franchise or business law attorney.