Wednesday, May 3, 2017
New Regulations Are So Convoluted That CEOs Don't Understand Them
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments” (79 FR 71155) rule is scheduled to take effect on May 5. The 105-page rule implements Obama-era amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which sets national standards for the marketing and labeling of food products.
The rule will require, among other mandates, that all restaurants and other retail food outlets, such as movie theaters, operating as one brand with at least 20 stores display a calorie count in addition to other nutritional information for all standard menu items on the establishment’s “menus and menu boards.”
To demonstrate the potential scope of that provision, Lynn Liddle, a former executive vice president at Domino’s Pizza, said, “‘Menu’ can refer to any writing that [is] ‘used by a customer to make an order selection at the time the customer is viewing the writing’”—possibly including flyers and other advertisements.
“We no longer know what a menu is,” Liddle said, to point out how confusing the rule is.
When an executive of a major national corporation can no longer ascertain the meaning of the word “menu,” a rule has problems.
During the rule’s notice-and-comment period, some food purveyors raised concerns “that restaurants that ‘unwittingly misbrand their menu offerings’ will be held liable for their food that is misbranded under this rule and related provisions of the FD&C Act.”
The FD&C Act makes misbranding a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000, with more severe sanctions for repeat offenses (21 U.S.C. § 333)….