WASHINGTON — As a doctor, father and the head of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, I believe that everyone is entitled to the information they need to make informed decisions about the food they eat. We serve as the nation’s expert on food labeling, which is why Congress entrusted us with the responsibility of crafting predictable, uniform federal standards that will benefit the health of families across America by ensuring access to essential calorie and nutrition information on food and menu labels.
Americans should not have to navigate variable information about the foods they eat when traveling from state to state—or city to city. Inconsistent state and local requirements may also drive up the cost of food, and sow confusion, by requiring restaurants and other covered establishments to post different information based on location. We take seriously our obligation to consumers; to make sure they have access to useful menu labeling information in a simple and timely manner. We also share Congress’s goal in enacting these labeling provisions: to ensure that calorie and nutrition information is delivered in a clear, consistent and predictable way. Similarly, we recognize our obligation to provide clear guidance so that restaurants and other establishments that are subject to these provisions have clarity and certainty as to how they can efficiently meet the new menu labeling requirements.
We have issued detailed regulations addressing what information should be provided in menus at restaurant chains and other similar retail establishments, as well as when and how that information should be provided. In developing the regulations, we were informed by thousands of comments from consumers, industry representatives and other interested parties, along with many meetings and discussions with stakeholders. Earlier this year, we solicited another round of feedback on our regulation, which has helped to further inform our approach to implementing the menu labeling provisions.
I am pleased to announce that we will provide additional, practical guidance on the menu labeling requirements by the end of this year. This additional guidance will address concerns that were raised about challenges establishments faced in understanding how to meet their obligations under the new regulations. We have been diligently working to address the comments we received, and to establish a sustainable framework for enabling establishments to effectively meet the new menu labeling provisions. These new policy steps should allow covered establishments to implement the requirements by next year’s compliance date.
The FDA takes seriously our responsibility to ensure that food is labeled in a manner that provides people with the information they need to make healthy choices. We will continue to fulfill our obligation to pursue science-based, public health-focused federal standards across the full spectrum of our food regulatory authorities to the benefit of all Americans.
–FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.
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