Dr. Scott Gottlieb says he's 'fully committed' to mandating calorie counts on menus in 2018

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said he is "fully committed" to adding calorie counts to restaurant menus by May 7, 2018, according to a Nov. 7 statement.

Dr. Gottlieb's statement reaffirms the compliance date set May 4, which represented the fourth extension from the agency's original compliance date for the policy, December 1, 2015. The Obama-era policy, which the FDA first proposed in 2011, mandates restaurant chains with 20-plus locations provide calorie information on their menus.

"More people are eating meals away from home, and our diets are increasingly comprised of foods we get from restaurants or take-out meals," Dr. Gottlieb said. "One important step is ensuring consumers have access to reliable and actionable information about the foods they eat so that they can make more informed choices about their diets and health for themselves and their families."

To ensure the food labeling standards were "not overly burdensome to restaurants and similar retail food establishments," the FDA solicited feedback from consumers, public health experts and food industry stakeholders — such as representatives from pizza franchises, grocery stores and convenience stores, according to Dr. Gottlieb.

The FDA addressed stakeholder concerns in a draft guidance issued Nov. 7. The draft guidance, for example, clarifies restaurant advertisements like posters, billboards and coupon mailings are not considered "menus" under the regulation. Accordingly, the FDA will not require these types of advertisements include calorie information.

"Over the next several months, we will continue to partner with restaurants and similar retail food establishments through each step in the implementation process and look forward to May, when consumers will have access to clear, consistent calorie information on the menus in their favorite chain restaurants and food establishments," Dr. Gottlieb said.

To access the draft guidance, click here.

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