- New York officials have agreed to delay implementation of the city's menu labeling law for restaurants and food retailers until May 2018, according to a release from the Food Marketing Institute.
- New York had passed its own menu labeling law, but made it identical to the federal law and delayed enforcement until the national law took effect. After the Trump administration announced a one-year delay to the federal law just before the May 4 enforcement deadline, New York moved ahead with its own version, which was scheduled to take effect earlier this month.
- “Food Marketing Institute is pleased we were able to reach a settlement with the City, which both protects our members from fines prior to the federal compliance date and also serves as a strong deterrent for other states and localities from prematurely enforcing the federal menu labeling rule prior to the federal compliance date,” FMI’s chief public policy officer Jennifer Hatcher said in a statement.
New York has been a vocal advocate of restaurant calorie labeling, and in 2007 passed its own calorie labeling law for chain restaurants. So it was no surprise to see the city move forward with its own calorie labeling measure for food retailers after the Trump administration delayed nationwide implementation.
Industry groups countered by filing a lawsuit in Manhattan claiming that Congress intended menu labeling laws to be enforced nationwide and could not be preempted by local municipalities. The Department of Justice earlier this month sided with the Food Marketing Institute and the National Association of Convenience Stores, filing a statement of interest that said New York “may not choose to take its own path in the face of this clear expression of Congressional purpose."
The city held talks with the Food and Drug Administration, and in the end didn’t appear to have had much appetite for a showdown with the federal government. The settlement, aside from providing further evidence of the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory stance, could carry implications for other cities and states looking to preempt federal rules. If the U.S. Department of Agriculture misses its deadline to propose full regulations on its GMO labeling law by July 2018, many believe Vermont and other jurisdictions will move ahead with enforcement of local laws. However, they may face a forceful pushback from Trump’s DOJ.
Ultimately, advocates of menu labeling worry that the Trump administration will keep delaying the law in an effort to water it down. The FDA, for its part, posted a statement from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying the agency would release guidance for industry ahead of the May compliance date, and that it expected all companies involved to prepare for its implementation.