FDA Publishes Final Rule on Menu Labeling Requirements for Restaurants

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released their final rule for menu labeling requirements for restaurants that are part of a chain of twenty or more with the same ownership, operating under the same name. The FDA was required to establish the rule under the nutrition labeling requirement contained within the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Alcohol, which originally was proposed to be exempted by the FDA, is now included in the labeling requirement for restaurants.

A restaurant that meets the requirement of twenty or more will now have to list the calorie and nutrition information for all beer, wine and spirits that  are listed on a menu. Mixed drinks not listed on a menu are exempted from the requirements, as are liquor bottles on display behind a bar. Restaurants have significant flexibility in choosing a basis for nutrient contents disclosures. This can include the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. The USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference includes the categories, “alcoholic beverage, wine, table, red,” “alcoholic beverage, wine, table, white,” among several other general categories for alcoholic beverages. The USDA will allow covered establishments to use these entries as the bases for their nutrient content disclosures for alcoholic beverages that are standard menu items.

The FDA will not be encroaching on the TTB’s regulation of the alcohol industry, and all of the nutrition labeling requirements will comply with TTB requirements. Alcohol producers will not be required to disclose the nutritional content of their products or conduct laboratory analyses of their products. The burden for disclosure is on the covered establishments (restaurants) and they will be allowed to use the accepted USDA measurements for caloric and other nutritional content.

The final rule goes into effect on December 1, 2014 and covered establishments have until December 1, 2015 to comply. If you have questions please contact Michael Kaiser at mkaiser@nullwineamerica.org.