New Deadline Announced for FDA Food Labeling Requirement: You've Got Time, Make It Count

The food and restaurant industry received some unexpected news this week.  The FDA Food Labeling Requirement deadline has shifted. On Monday, the federal mandate requiring all chain restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores (among other food sellers) to post calorie counts was delayed following a last-minute reprieve from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA announced the new deadline to post calories is May 7, 2018. This means those affected now have a little bit of time to catch up and ensure compliance. As a food seller, what can you do to make it count?

What Does the Mandate Mean for Restaurants and Food Retailers?

The FDA Food Labeling Requirement was originally proposed as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare-related regulations aim to improve the health of Americans by allowing guests to make informed food and dietary choices. The rule establishes a consistent national menu-labeling standard. Furthermore, it requires that restaurants with 20 or more locations post in-store menu boards for every single food item and combination served. Sellers of prepared foods are also affected.

In addition to menus, the FDA rules also mandate that calorie information for food sold in vending machines and in‐store marketing materials comply. This means that these regulations will require prepared food sellers of all kinds to prominently display the necessary information.

The regulations went into effect in December 2016, with a deadline of May 5 to begin enforcement. However, on Monday the FDA extended that deadline to early next year.  When enforcement begins, penalties could include fines and/or jail time.

 Get Compliant with a Central Food Content Repository

Stories around the new regulations have largely focused on the cost to produce new menus. But really, the price of reprinted menus is just a part of the picture. The strain on internal resources due to outdated content systems and manual processes can take a major operational toll. How can sellers and restaurants make agile updates to menus and marketing materials when the process for sharing nutritional information is broken, sluggish, or worse, non-existent?

According to the National Restaurant Association, “the accuracy of nutrition information will be an important factor in the new law’s public-health impact. Inaccurate or unreliable information could compromise consumer trust in menu labeling and hurt brand loyalty.” Furthermore, they suggest five menu-labeling “musts,” including keeping nutrition information valid and up-to-date by leveraging a crucial component: an accurate content database.

 The EnterWorks PIM Solution

Keeping physical and digital information accurate and timely with new menu items is a perfect use case for an omnichannel product content platform. For restaurant franchisors lacking such a Product Information Management (PIM) system, delivery of FDA‐compliant menus and labeling will be an ongoing problem. Food service chains and others who sell prepared foods, such as convenience and grocery stores, need a sustainable solution.

EnterWorks Enable™ PIM solution accomplishes exactly this by creating a single source of granular truth for data and content across the food value chain.  Its dynamic data model can be updated as needed for accuracy in content as changes in menus, recipes, or regulations dictate. The solution also includes integrated features like: Supplier Portal to directly engage food supply chain partners in validating nutritional details); DAM to manage crucial menu imagery and digital assets; and Publishing with Adobe® InDesign for self-serve, on-to-go menu creation.

Contact us to discuss the role EnterWorks PIM and MDM solutions play in helping restaurant chains and other prepared food sellers enable product content that complies with labeling regulations.

And be sure to follow the EnterWorks blog for updates on complying with the FDA Food Labeling Requirements.

Rick Chavie

Rick Chavie

Rick Chavie was appointed CEO of EnterWorks in May 2015. He came to EnterWorks after serving as SVP, Global Solution Management with hybris and SAP’s Customer Engagement and Commerce group, where he brought together digital and physical commerce and CRM assets for seamless customer experiences. Mr. Chavie brings industry experience from his leadership roles at retailers such as The Home Depot and C&A. He brings technology experience from his role as the global marketing leader for NCR’s retail and hospitality business, and management consulting expertise from his partner roles at Deloitte and Accenture, where he served clients across retail, branded consumer and wholesale verticals. Chavie is a Harvard MBA, a Fulbright Scholar in International Trade, and a summa cum laude graduate from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He is a noted speaker at industry events, an author on the wholesale industry, and frequently comments on commerce, marketing and customer engagement topics.