WASHINGTON — In comments filed last week regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's draft menu-labeling regulations, the National Restaurant Association argued that the FDA should expand its definition of “similar retail food establishments” and “restaurant-like” operations, and treat all of these businesses the same under the planned law.
The law will require all restaurant chains with at least 20 locations to provide detailed nutrition information to customers, and post calorie information on menus, menu boards and drive thru menus. If the FDA accepts the association's suggestion, supermarket delis, bakeries and prepared food departments would be subject to compliance.
Specifically, the association complained that the FDA's current definition excludes convenience store chains with foodservice operations, “retail food establishments within large retail establishments,” movie theaters, and other retail food businesses that could claim exemption via a variety of loopholes, thus confusing consumers with inconsistent labeling.
The association has proposed that the FDA adopt a definition outlined in its own earlier guidance documents, in which any establishment that sells food intended for immediate consumption, on- or off-premise, would be subject to the law.
This definition would include “facilities in grocery stores including in-store cafes, food courts, bakeries, salad bars, pizza bars, and delicatessens,” according to the submitted comments.