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    FDA Extends Menu-Labeling Comment Period

    Move comes in response to trade group’s request

    The Food and Drug Administration has extended until Aug. 2 the comment period for its interim final rule on menu labeling in restaurants and other food retail establishments, including grocery and convenience stores. The action came in response to a request from the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association.

    Cicely Simpson, EVP, policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association, wrote in a June 8 letter to the agency that the rule “properly raises a host of issues that warrant review and reconsideration, particularly with respect to flexibility and ensuring a range of means by which consumers can access calorie and other nutrition information,” and that FDA had raised difficult questions on various issues. Simpson added that while her association had begun a process to develop comments on behalf of its members, it would be “nearly impossible” to have any comments ready without a 60-day extension.

    In response, FDA granted half of what was asked for, noting in a June 28 letter to Simpson that the “interim final rule and its 30-day extension will provide an additional comment period of 90 days.” The extension was announced in the Federal Register.

    Earlier, the effective date of the final rule was moved forward to May 7, 2018, thanks to a petition filed in April by Alexandria, Va.-based National Convention of Convenience Stores and the National Grocers Association, in Arlington, Va. 

    Although grocers have expressed concern over the costs that the rule would impose on small independent operators, some larger chains, including SpartanNash and Wegmans, have already begun posting calorie counts and other nutrition information for the prepared foods sold in their stores.

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