After Settlement with Trade Groups, NYC Halts Menu Labeling Rules

New York City, which originated many of the menu labeling standards that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to implement, won't jump ahead of the FDA's own planned deadlines after a coalition of trade groups sued the city.

With the Food and Drug Administration’s menu labeling requirements for restaurants on hold until May 2018, it looked like New York City would get ahead of the FDA and implement requirements of its own. But a legal settlement approved last week has paused the city’s plan.

The proposed FDA regulations have been delayed repeatedly, due in part to concerns raised by retail and restaurant groups. The city—whose early policies set the stage for the federal regulations—feared that the rules wouldn’t get implemented at all, so it planned to move forward with its own version of the regulations.

But last month a number of food and retail groups sued the city over the move, including the National Restaurant Association, NACS—The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, the New York Association of Convenience Stores, and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

The new rules, which would expand existing New York City restaurant regulations to grocers and other nontraditional food vendors, was to take effect August 21. But with the FDA siding with the trade groups in court, the city agreed to settle the case [PDF]. Had the settlement not been reached, 3,000 restaurants and 1,500 food retailers would have been immediately affected by the rule.

FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher praised the settlement, saying it “serves as a strong deterrent for other states and localities from prematurely enforcing the federal menu labeling rule prior to the federal compliance date.”

“The city’s agreement, along with the United States Statement of Interest that was filed in the case, is a further testament to our position that a municipality’s premature enforcement is preempted by federal law,” she said in comments to Supermarket News.

NACS Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Lyle Beckwith calling the decision “a clear victory for common sense.”

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement saying the agency would take additional steps to ensure that the menu labeling guidance would be ready to go by next May.

“I am pleased to announce that we will provide additional, practical guidance on the menu labeling requirements by the end of this year,” Gottlieb said. “This additional guidance will address concerns that were raised about challenges establishments faced in understanding how to meet their obligations under the new regulations.”

(Kevin Harber/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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