The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last year that chain restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores with 20 or more locations would be required to post the calorie content of food on their menus. The deadline for which restaurants and other retailers have to implement the rule, however, has now been delayed for a year.
The agency hopes that by making calorie information readily available, consumers will be able to make an informed choice about what they eat. Menus must also include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
The move may have broad implications for public health. Currently, Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home.
The change came about after the FDA came under pressure from various players in the food industry to delay enforcing the rules. On Thursday, the agency complied and announced that it has pushed back its deadline from Dec. 1, 2015, to Dec. 1, 2016. The FDA said it delayed the deadline in response to several requests from the food industry for an extension and a clarification of the rules.
“The FDA agrees additional time is necessary for the agency to provide further clarifying guidance to help facilitate efficient compliance across all covered businesses and for covered establishments to come into compliance with the final rule,” the agency said in a statement.
Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, told The Washington Post that the delay is a “clear win for the restaurant lobbyists.” She questioned whether it really took “6 years to figure out how to do something that was done in New York City in 2008?”
Some of the strongest proponents of the labeling rule did, however, argue that the delay is necessary, The New York Times reports. Senator Patty Murray, for example, led a bipartisan group of 32 senators to call for a one-year delay to further clarify key components of the final rule.