FDA Releases Menu Labeling Guidance

Yes, alcohol beverages fall under the umbrella of the federal nutrition labeling requirements, according to guidelines released by the FDA recently. The drinks industry was holding its collective breath on that one, after dodging that bullet in the regs put forth in several states, including California, and some local municipalities. The FDA is now taking public comments on the regulations; click here to provide your input.

The legislation applies to foodservice establishments doing business under the same name and offering “substantially the same menu items” and operating in 20 or more locations. It’s part of the health care reform bill signed by President Obama in March. Final labeling guidelines will be issued by March 23, 2011.

While many involved in the making and marketing of cocktails, wine and beer in restaurants are likely cringing at the prospect of producing and publicizing calorie and other nutritional information about the adult beverages they serve, there are some interesting elements of the guidelines. For instance, daily specials and items that appear on the menu for less than 60 days per calendar year are exempt from the labeling requirement, as are items in market test.

What are your thoughts, concerns or ideas around these guidelines and your organization’s plans to comply at the bar? Let me know what you think by emailing me at [email protected]. And look for ongoing coverage in VIBE, on nightclub.com and in Nightclub & Bar Magazine.


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