Through the fall, Brewers Association Technical Brewing Projects Manager Chuck Skypeck and I have discussed FDA’s goals and methods in regards to compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) menu labeling for restaurants and similar retail food establishments. First what we know and then what we don’t know yet, but expect answers to soon.
FDA released the rules and guidance for industry in 2015 and 2016. These rules are in place, with enforcement starting in May 2017. These rules apply for menus and menu boards at chain restaurants of 20 or more units operating under the same name. Some fresh food items in convenience store and grocery stores would also fall under the regulations. Establishments covered under the rules will need to have calories posted on menus and menu boards for each size of an item available. The establishment would have to have available upon request data for ten other nutrients–total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein. There are exceptions for seasonal and test products allowed under certain conditions in the rules and guidance.
The ongoing discussions with FDA surround what the customer seeks for nutrient information. One theory we have proposed is that customers who care about nutrition with their beer, are concerned with calories and potentially carbohydrates only. Most of the data points for the other nutrients round to zero, but would need an appropriate basis for that claim. The regulations allow “reasonable bases” for the data points such as recipe, databases, and laboratory testing. Our goal at the Brewers Association is to receive a positive response from FDA develop a database based on gravities or styles for beers without post-fermentation additions to allow database data points for the 9 nutrients that people are less concerned about from beverage alcohol rather than expensive lab testing for beers in chain restaurants.
We’ll have more info after our call with the FDA team at the Office of Nutrition and Labeling currently scheduled for December 13, 2016. So more to come.
Director, Brewers Association
December 6, 2016