In the circus world of the foodservice industry, restaurant chains and food stores were notified by the FDA just days before the new menu labeling laws would take effect that everything was put on hold for another year. I’d bet most businesses were scrambling to get their menu boards and food cases loaded with updated media reflecting calories and more, only to slam on the brakes and reel in the troops.
Some businesses chose to post nutritional information anyway, because of the time and dollars already invested in researching food components and getting their menu boards or product labels created and produced. Hopefully they will be ahead of the game next spring when the FDA will once again look at enforcing their guidelines.
Did you wait to update?
You might have been a bit behind the ball in getting prepared to post your nutritional information for your dining guests and are now in a holding pattern to see if it really happens in a year. Betsy Craig, contributor to Fast Casual e-zine, posted her thoughts in a debriefing on why the FDA pulled back the implementation date in her commentary posted May 4, 2017.
Here are her suggestions on what restaurant leadership should do now:
- Take advantage of the extra time.
- Make sure your information is current.
- Stay connected to your nutritional help desk to stay informed on any changes the FDA may require.
- Maintain your nutritional information.
- If you change suppliers for any item in a recipe, update your nutritional information.
- If you seek a change in distributors, make sure you also know how it will change your ingredients.
- Coordinate your menu refreshes for the spring of 2018 to coincide with the next mandate deadline of menu labeling.
Thinking the FDA won't enforce labeling?
Betsy also doesn’t feel menu labeling will go away. She says many local and regional laws already enforce various nutritional postings and you may be required to update your menu boards or placards anyway. She cites an incidence where a foodservice establishment wasn’t allowed to open until they were able to post appropriate signage with nutritional details. They falsely assumed this would be an easy task, but in reality the days and weeks it took to research, create and produce their menu resulted in additional dollars lost until they received health department approval to open.
Take Betsy's advice to not wait until next year to revisit your menu boards and case labels. Forward thinking will save you the headache of trying to cram research and production into the days before implementation. And I can tell you that as a company who designs and creates menu boards, it’s not an overnight process to make the magic happen for you!