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FMI contests new NYC rule

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is opposing a rule in New York City requiring many food retailers to post calorie counts for standard menu items. The city implemented the expansion of its health code on May 22, extending to supermarkets and chain retailers a calorie count requirement imposed on chain restaurants since 2008. The city had been delaying the extension while the Food and Drug Administration considers similar rules, but decided to move ahead, explaining that the requirement would combat chronic diseases by improving residents’ nutrition.

“The Food Marketing Institute, on behalf of its members, expresses its surprise by and frustration with the City of New York’s announcement … that city officials will begin targeting grocers and other food retailers for ‘menu labeling’ compliance,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president and chief executive officer. “The announcement violates both the compliance date and the preemption provisions of the federal ‘menu labeling’ statute and regulations, which have been formally postponed and are under review by the FDA until May 2018 due to substantive regulatory and enforcement concerns. These significant concerns get amplified by the city’s unexpected action, which did not include formal notification to food retailers and provides only a single business day’s notice prior to enforcement, a situation exacerbated by a lack of training materials, oversight procedures and discussions to resolve problems.”

New York’s new rules apply to food retailers with at least 15 locations nationwide.

“The supermarket industry for years has sought commonsense flexibility, such as liability protections for good-faith compliance efforts, allowing the use of a central menu board for a salad bar and creating a regulatory environment that preserves the opportunity for selling locally made and locally sourced foods,” said Sarasin. “These are sensible modifications that can easily be incorporated and that will allow grocery stores to provide information to customers in a more efficient and accurate, less costly manner. We ask for FDA, city officials and other entities to employ a thoughtful, constructive approach to the tremendous challenges associated with application of chain restaurant style ‘menu labeling’ in a grocery store environment.”


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