The Food and Drug Administration agreed to extend the deadline for the calorie-posting requirement that it had imposed to grocery stores, restaurant chains, and movie theaters by one year.
While the businesses hailed the measure because it granted them some extra time to comply with the measure, critics said that it was an unnecessary move which would eventually work against consumers.
The deadline, which was imposed in November, was pushed farther first and foremost at the industry’s pressures. The move was expected to take effect by the end of this year. The most vocal companies that had campaigned against it were the pizza chains.
Pizza chains argued that the requirement involved high expenses on their part and it was useless because their customers usually order pizza over the phone and have no chance of seeing the calorie counts on the menu.
The FDA announced Thursday that it decided to extend the deadline because it wanted to grant the food industry more time to comply with the new measure. Consumer advocates, however, argued that restaurant industry would now have some extra time to advocate against the measure, rather than comply with it.
Prof. Marion Nestle, a nutrition expert at the New York University deemed the delay a huge success for the restaurant industry. He said that restaurant chains hoped that if they can push the deadline as far as they could, menu labeling requirements would just “go away.”
On the other hand, some people say that the delay may be caused by bureaucracy rather than lobbyists. That’s because the FDA hasn’t issued yet some critical guidelines designed to help food industry to carry out the menu labeling. And there are less than six months before the initial deadline would expire.
Michael R. Taylor of the FDA announced Thursday that the new deadline for the menu labeling would be December 1, 2016.
“The F.D.A. agrees additional time is necessary for the agency to provide further clarifying guidance to help facilitate efficient compliance across all covered businesses,”
Mr. Taylor noted.
But he acknowledged that the move was also the result of “extensive dialogue” with that part of the food industry that will be affected by the decision. The FDA disclosed that it would release guidance on how the measure should be carried out by the end of the summer.
Calorie counting labeling on menu became a requirement for the first time in 2010 under the Obamacare reform. A year later, the FDA issued a draft on how it should be carried out, but the final rule was released in November, 2014, despite heavy industry lobby against it.
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