Trump Administration Delays Nutritional Labeling Rule for Restaurant Chains
In a victory for some foodservice lobbyist groups, the rule, set to take effect on Wednesday, May 3, will be reviewed and held for another year.
Restaurant chains like Domino’s made a last, desperate push to convince President Trump to delay a controversial rule on restaurant menu labeling—and apparently won the day.
In what appears to be a victory for some foodservice industry lobbyist groups, the federal government has once again delayed implementation of federal rules on menu labeling and calorie counts. A number of groups, including the American Pizza Community, have been urging President Trump to back away from the regulations, which originated in the Obama administration.
The regulations were set to take effect today (Wednesday, May 3), but the Food & Drug Administration has submitted an interim final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget, resulting in a delay in the rule’s implementation. Restaurants now have until May 7, 2018, to comply with the rules, which may undergo significant revisions before then.
The new rules, part of the Affordable Care Act passed seven years ago, would require some restaurants and other businesses that serve food—including supermarkets and convenience stores—to post calorie counts and other nutrition information on their menu boards. The rules would apply only to chains with 20 or more locations.
According to The Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the menu labeling requirements are “unwise and unhelpful” in their current form and the FDA will try to make them “more flexible and less burdensome.” Price added, “The FDA made the right decision to delay a rule that would have essentially dictated how every foodservice establishment in America with more than 20 locations—restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters and more—writes and displays their menus.”
Various trade groups have fought implementation of the regulations, including the American Pizza Community, the National Grocers Association and the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing. The pizza industry previously lobbied successfully for some changes that would ease the burden imposed by the regulations, especially since it would be difficult to determine and post calorie counts for all of the possible build-your-own pizzas that come loaded with various toppings.
Perhaps the loudest opposition to the proposed rules came from the American Pizza Community, which lobbies for Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and other big pizza chains. It has argued that posting calorie counts on menu boards doesn’t make sense for delivery-focused companies. The organization recently made a last-minute plea to the Trump administration to delay the rules. Some pizza leaders have pushed for the passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which would let many pizza companies post nutritional information solely on their websites.
But not all industry associations agree about the rules. After learning about the latest delay, the National Restaurant Association issued a statement saying it “strongly cautions against any actions that would delay implementation of the menu labeling law.” The NRA explained that many cities and states already have their own rules in place, creating confusion around the country. “If the federal standard is repealed, we will once again return to this patchwork approach that will be even more burdensome for restaurants to implement and will not have the legal safeguards included in the federal law.”
This marks the third time the rules have been delayed since they were issued in December 2014. Many restaurant chains, from Subway and Jimmy John’s to Panera Bread Co., have reportedly begun to implement the rules, while others have been posting nutritional information on their websites for years.