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Sticky note with salt

After surviving its first go-around in court, New York City’s attempt to require restaurateurs to add sodium warnings to their menus has hit a roadblock in the form of a temporary injunction.

Perhaps taking inspiration from the FDA’s recent imposition of nutrition-labeling requirements on restaurant menus, the New York City Board of Health had approved a menu-labeling regulation of its own this past December. Under the regulation, the New York City Health Code was amended to require “Food Service Establishments” (or “FSEs”) to post salt-shaker icons on their menus next to any food item containing more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium – the FDA’s recommended daily allowance of the delicious mineral. The regulation also requires FSEs to include a statement on their menus that “[h]igh sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.”

Two major changes are on the horizon for Oregon diners and restaurateurs—one may affect diners’ waistlines while the other will force purveyors to fess up to potentially hazardous ingredients they serve.

Way back in 2009, Oregon’s Legislature passed the Menu Labeling Act, one of the country’s toughest menu labeling laws, requiring restaurants with 15 or more locations in the state to post the calorie count for every meal it serves. But before the laws could take effect, the federal government passed its own menu labeling law thereby preempting Oregon’s Menu Labeling Act. Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, set new federal requirements for nutrition labeling of foods sold at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Until the federal law takes effect (the FDA is expected to finalize the rules summer 2012) — Oregon won’t know whether it has to revisit its own law or rule-making process. And diners won’t know just how many calories are in that bleu cheese bacon burger.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has released its long anticipated draft regulations about menu labeling, which describe how the agency intends to enforce Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama just over a year ago. The FDA is accepting comments from the public on the proposed regulations until June 6, 2011.

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About the Editor

Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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