Menu Labeling Provisions: Getting Americans the Facts
By Beth Martino, Associate Commissioner for External Affairs at the Food and Drug Administration
One of the most important things we can do when it comes to the nation’s health is to provide clear and simple information to the American people so they can make choices that are best for them and their families.
The Affordable Care Act builds on the efforts of states and localities by requiring chain restaurants to clearly post nutritional information on their menus. The menu labeling provisions of the Affordable Care Act will help Americans get consistent facts about food choices in restaurants across the country so they know what is in their food and can make informed and, hopefully, healthier selections.
The new menu labeling provisions in the Affordable Care Act require restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to provide calorie information for menu items, food on display, and self-service food, as well as additional nutrition information for menu items.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has worked closely with stakeholders, including states, consumer groups and the restaurant industry as we implement this important new law. We have issued draft guidance and we are looking forward to hearing public comment on our proposed approach to implementing this new law. We encourage all stakeholders to share their thoughts about this important issue by providing comments on the draft guidance.
Our draft menu labeling guidance, including the questions and answers, was designed to solicit public comments on how FDA will implement the law and what types of establishments will be included. We are seeking stakeholder input on how best to address which food establishments should be covered. We do not anticipate that entities like airplanes and movie theaters will be included in the final guidance and the proposed rule.
The menu labeling law builds on other initiatives to promote prevention and improve health. Keeping every American healthy means ensuring every American has access to the information and resources they need to make healthy decisions. A focus on prevention and health promotion will improve the health of Americans and reduce health care costs. It is an idea that enjoys strong bi-partisan support among elected officials as well as among many sectors of society – from teachers to business leaders, doctors, nurses and parents.