Menu Labeling Campaign Timeline

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  • 1993: CSPI publishes the first in a series of landmark investigative reports (beginning with Chinese-restaurant food). That series of studies generated headlines across the country and revealed that sit-down restaurant food is often higher in calories, saturated fat, and sodium that fast food
  • 2002: CSPI launches campaign to require calorie labeling on menus and menu boards at fast-food and other chain restaurants, reaching out to advocates and policy makers to introduce menu labeling policies
  • 2003: CSPI works with legislators and advocates in Maine, California, D.C., and other states to introduce menu labeling legislation
  • 2004: Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Rosa DeLauro (at CSPI’s urging) introduce the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act
  • December 5, 2006: CSPI and New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene celebrate the first menu labeling policy, which is passed by the NYC Board of Health. That rule required calorie labeling on menus and menu boards at fast-food and other chain restaurants
  • 2007:  CSPI begins conferring the annual Xtreme Eating awards, highlighting restaurant meals high in calories.  Awards include Ruby Tuesday’s Fresh Chicken & Broccoli Pasta, which packed more than a whole day’s calories (2,060 cal) and at least three days’ worth of saturated fat
  • September 30, 2008: CSPI worked with state advocates to pass the first state menu labeling law, signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • 2006-2010: CSPI lends technical assistance to advocates to pass menu labeling policies in more than 20 states, counties, and cities.  See map: http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/ml_map.pdf
  • 2009-2010: CSPI meets with restaurant representatives to work out a compromise for a national menu labeling policy. Restaurants had opposed state and local menu labeling policies, but agreed to a national approach to avoid the differing rules around the country.  CSPI cultivates support in Congress for federal menu labeling bill
  • March 23, 2010: Congress passes national law for calorie labeling on menus, menu boards, and foods on display at chain restaurants and other food establishments and for vended foods and beverages as part of the Affordable Care Act.  FDA is instructed to issue regulations
  • April 6, 2011: The FDA issues proposed regulations on menu and vending labeling
  • 2011-2015: CSPI meets with the FDA and White House, provides background research, polling, and comments, and mobilizes other organizations and concerned citizens to write to the FDA to achieve a strong menu labeling regulation that ensures that chain supermarkets, convenience stores, movie theaters, and alcoholic beverages are covered
  • December 1, 2014: The FDA finalizes menu and vending labeling regulations
  • FDA delays menu labeling implementation from December 1, 2015 to December 1, 2016 (the delay is a compromise in exchange for keeping menu labeling for prepared foods in supermarkets and convenience stores, which were seeking an exemption)
  • September 11, 2015: FDA releases draft menu labeling guidance, which provides additional implementation details for industry
  • Congress delays menu labeling implementation from December 1, 2016 until one year after FDA finalizes its implementation guidance, as a result of lobbying by the pizza, supermarket, and convenience store industries (although the FDA had already agreed to a delay, Congress delays implementation further)
  • May 5, 2016: The FDA finalizes menu labeling implementation guidance
  • December 1, 2016: Vending labeling goes into effect
  • May 5, 2017: Menu labeling law goes into effect