City health officials announced Friday that they'd be delaying enforcement of an expanded calorie labeling law requiring convenience and grocery stores, as well as other chains, to post calorie counts for prepared food.
Instead, the city has agreed to wait to expand the existing calorie law until a similar federal regulation is enacted, which is now expected to happen in May of next year. As a result of that agreement, a lawsuit filed against the city by restaurant and convenience store trade groups, with backing from the FDA, has been resolved.
"We take the FDA at its word," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement. "The City is prepared to defend its right, independent of FDA action, to enforce its requirements that give New Yorkers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions."
As part of the agreement, chains in New York that currently post calorie counts will continue to do so until the federal regulations are enacted.
The rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information was first enacted in New York under Bloomberg in 2008, and subsequently spread to other cities and counties throughout the country. A similar requirement was federally mandated as part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2010, but has since been repeatedly stalled due to pressure from impacted industries.
The decision to push back enforcement until next spring was praised by those trade groups. "This settlement with New York City is a clear victory for common sense,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president, government affairs of the National Association of Convenience Stores. "States and cities cannot enforce menu-labeling rules until Food and Drug Administration rules are enforced."
According to a 2011 public opinion poll, 79 percent of New Yorkers found calorie labeling in restaurants useful, though numerous studies on the law's effectiveness in promoting healthier eating remain inconclusive.