FDA seeks public comments on healthcare reform law's menu labeling requirements

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday began seeking comments from consumers and industry on how it should implement provisions in the healthcare reform law requiring certain chain restaurants and vending machines to post the calorie content and other nutrition information of menu items. The agency is required to issue proposed regulations by March 23, 2011.

According to an FDA summary, the new law requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations that offer substantially the same menu items 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. The act also requires vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose the calorie content of their items.

Anyone wishing to comment can do so online at www.regulations.gov. The docket will be open for comment for 60 days.