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  • FDA seeks public comment on menu labeling requirement

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved into the public comment stage as it develops regulations for the national menu labeling requirement. The new federal requirements, part of the Affordable Care Act signed into law in March, calls for the posting of calorie content and other nutrition information on menu items at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food operations and vending machines.

The FDA has until March 23, 2011, to issue its proposed regulations to carry out the provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The new law requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations to list calorie content information on menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards.

Other nutrition information — total calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, and total protein — must be made available in writing on request.

Prior to the new law, federal law required nutrition labeling on many packaged foods, which may be purchased in supermarkets and at other locations, and some states and local governments required nutritional labeling by restaurants in their jurisdictions.

The FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers, and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about menu labeling in docket number FDA-2010-N-0298 at www.regulations.gov. The docket will remain open for 60 days.

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