April 8, 2020
Authored by: BCLP, Brandon Neuschafer and Merrit Jones
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has temporarily relaxed some of its requirements concerning menu and nutrition labeling, and extended certain enforcement deadlines.
The FDA has announced that it “will not object” if, during this public health emergency, restaurants and retail food establishments do not meet menu labeling requirements requiring disclosure of calories and other nutritional information.
The FDA regulations typically apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.
The FDA stated that this policy is intended to provide flexibility to restaurants and food establishments that may have to rapidly transition to take-out only or that are experiencing disruptions in their supply chains requiring substitutions. To provide further guidance, it has issued Temporary Policy Regarding Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Chain Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
Nutrition Facts Label Enforcement
As we previously reported, although January 1, 2020, was the deadline for many companies to implement the new Nutrition Facts label, the FDA earlier stated that it would not take any enforcement action for the first six months, or until after July 1, 2020. The FDA has now announced that it intends to work cooperatively with manufacturers for the remainder of the year, and “will not focus on enforcement actions