FDA – Final Guidance on Menu Labeling published

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on 29th April the publication of its final guidance for industry, “A Labeling Guide for Restaurants and Retail Establishments Selling Away-From-Home Foods – Part II (Menu Labeling Requirements in Accordance with 21 CFR 101.11).”

The FDA intends to begin enforcing the menu labeling final rule one year from the date that the Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register. The NOA for the guidance is expected to be published in early May 2016.

This guidance responds to many frequently asked questions that the agency has received to date. It differs from the draft guidance by providing additional examples and new or revised questions and answers on topics such as covered establishments, alcoholic beverages, catered events, mobile vendors, grab-and-go items, and record keeping requirements.

In 2010, section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended 403(q)(5)(H) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 343(q)(5)(H)) to require that 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, provide calorie information for standard menu items (including food on display and self-service food) and provide, upon request, additional written nutrition information for standard menu items.

This guidance document describes nutrition labeling that is required for foods sold in covered establishments, how this information (calorie and nutrition labeling) may be presented, and when exempt foods, as defined further below, must provide nutrition labeling. The guidance also describes means (reasonable basis) by which nutrient values may be derived.

You can download the PDF file here.

(Source: FDA website)

Study on physical activity calorie equivalent labeling

An interesting study on potential effect of physical activity calorie equivalent labeling on parent fast food decisions was recently published by Anthony J. Viera, MD, MPH and Ray Antonelli on the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here below you can find the abstract:

OBJECTIVES: Menu labels displaying food energy in physical activity calorie equivalents (PACE) is a possible strategy to encourage ordering meals with fewer calories and promoting physical activity. Potential effects of such labeling for children have never been examined.

METHODS: We conducted a national survey of 1000 parents randomized to 1 of 4 fast food menus: no labels, calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles needed to walk to burn the calories. Respondents were asked to imagine they were in a fast food restaurant and place an order for their child. At the survey’s conclusion, all respondents were shown a calorie-only label and both PACE labels and asked to rate the likelihood each label would influence them to encourage their child to exercise.

RESULTS: We excluded respondents whose meals totaled 0 calories or .4000 calories, leaving 823 parents in the analysis. The mean age of the child for whom the meal was “ordered” was 9.5 years. Parents whose menus displayed no label ordered an average of 1294 calories, whereas those shown calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles ordered 1066, 1060, and 1099 calories, respectively (P = .0001). Only 20% of parents reported that calories only labeling would be “very likely” to prompt them to encourage their children to exercise versus 38% for calories plus minutes (P , .0001) and 37% for calories plus miles (P , .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: PACE labeling may influence parents’ decisions on what fast food items to order for their children and encourage them to get their children to exercise.