August 25, 2010

Health Regulators Hold Off On Enforcing New Menu Rules

U.S. health regulators are planning to give restaurant companies more time to comply with new rules that require clear calorie and nutritional information on menus.

Restaurants must clearly post calories and other nutrition details on their menus under the healthcare law that passed in March.  The rules target restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as other retail food outlets, and would affect huge national chains like McDonald's Corp and Yum Brands Inc., the operators of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fast-food chains.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allocated until March 2011 until the rules go into effect.  However, the agency said on Tuesday that it would hold off on enforcing them for an unspecified time period.

Other companies likely to be affected by the new menu rules have already started adding calorie counts to its menu boards, including Starbucks Corp., Olive Garden and Red Lobster owner Darden Restaurants Inc., and IHOP and Apple's parent Dine Equity Inc.

Most major chains have resisted posting this type of information without legislation and the threat of fines.  Several states, counties and cities have proposed or passed laws requiring menu labeling, but only a handful have put them into effect.


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