Consumer advocacy groups urge FDA to require menu labeling on delivery apps

Consumer advocacy groups urge FDA to require menu labeling on delivery apps

April 5, 2021 Off By administrator

Dive Brief:

  • The Center for Science in the Public Interest sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday requesting clarification on menu labeling requirements for menus listed on third-party delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. At issue is whether or not those platforms are beholden to the same nutrition labeling requirements as chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets.
  • The CSPI, joined by the American Heart Association, American Public Health Association, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Federation of America and Consumer Reports, claims that restaurant chains are failing to supply this information on their online menus featured by third-party apps.
  • “Because TPPs play a large and rapidly growing role in the American food landscape, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and likely beyond, ensuring that restaurants provide nutrition labeling on TPP menus, as the FDCA requires, will provide important public health benefits,” the organizations state in the letter, adding that failure to provide this information undercuts “the public health goals of nutrition labeling.”

Dive Insight:

The consumer groups pointed to Chipotle as an example of the nutritional “information gap” that exists on brands’ third-party delivery menus. Consumers can view calorie amounts for menu items on Chipotle.com, but not on Chipotle’s menu listed on DoorDash.

This phenomenon could become frustrating for diners as nearly every major restaurant chain now exists on a third-party delivery app, but their nutritional details may not have carried over to those specific digital menus. Growing delivery demand could exacerbate this information gap, as well. According to The NPD Group, delivery orders from restaurants were 154% higher in January 2021 than they were in January 2020, for example. The CSPI adds that 80% of non-pizza orders were conducted through a third-party delivery provider since the start of the pandemic.

The CSPI states that the effort to close this gap is important as rates of obesity and related chronic diseases have grown significantly throughout the past several decades. Menu labeling has “modestly” reduced calorie intake, according to the organizations. The CSPI and letter co-authors also argue that disclosure of this information may incite companies to lower their calorie counts.

A challenge with the CSPI’s goal, however, is understanding whose responsibility it is to ensure calorie counts are included on third-party sites — the restaurant chain or the delivery company. A DoorDash spokesperson told The Counter that the company gives its restaurant partners the ability to include this information, while an FDA spokesperson told the publication that third-party companies “likely would not meet the definition of a covered establishment under current requirements, and therefore would not be subject to menu labeling requirements.

The absence of nutritional information on…

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