Agency says it recognizes operators have had to quickly shift business model amid pandemic.
The FDA is easing its regulations on menu labeling at restaurants to lift pressure off operators during the COVID-19 crisis.
Restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering substantially the same menu are required to provide nutrition information, including calories, for standard menu items. On request, these locations must be able to provide nutrition information on total calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, and protein.
However, the FDA said it recognizes that a number of restaurants have been forced to change business practices in the past several weeks, making it difficult to abide by the nutrition mandate.
“Some dine-in operations are switching to takeout only, which may require changes in online ordering portals and printed menus,” the FDA said in a statement. “Because calorie information is required to be declared for standard menu items when a consumer makes a selection, establishments may have difficulty providing this information during a rapid transition to a takeout business practice. Additionally, some of these establishments may be experiencing temporary disruptions in the food supply chain, which may lead to different menus or substitutions that could affect the accuracy of the nutrition information.”
The FDA said its flexibility on nutrition information will last for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress passed the nationwide law in 2010, and FDA regulations were finalized in 2014. Restaurants were expected to comply with the new rule by May 2018.