FRANCHISE BUSINESSES RECOMMEND IMPROVEMENTS IN MENU LABELING IMPLEMENTATION

January 3rd, 2011

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2010—The International Franchise Association today  submitted comments urging the Food and Drug Administration to complete a full rulemaking process for all provisions in the new menu-labeling regulations at the same time, rather than a tiered approach to help minimize the cost and confusion for small, franchised restaurants and more efficiently provide valuable information to consumers.

“The International Franchise Associations continues to support providing consumers with clear and consistent nutrition information,” said International Franchise Association President and CEO Stephen J. Caldeira. “However, as we have more fully explored the myriad of questions associated with implementation for all of the different types of franchised restaurant systems, we believe that by implementing all the provisions at the same time, FDA can implement the law with the least amount of confusion and in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible with adequate time to comply.”

Caldeira explained that the franchised restaurant business model is complex, with no two companies alike. Certain business models franchise all their establishments while others divide between franchised ownership and corporate ownership. While the new law requires chain restaurants to post certain specified nutrition information for consumers, International Franchise Association member restaurant chains are made up of hundreds or even thousands of individual owners who may operate slightly differently, but operate under the same brand.   

“For these small business owners, the cost of implementing the law two or more times, becomes quite daunting, particularly during the current economic crisis, Caldeira said. “By implementing the provisions all at the same time, small businesses struggling to stay afloat will be awarded with regulatory certainty that will help them manage the costs involved.”

The determination of how to provide calories on menus for franchised restaurants can be complex. Some franchise companies require all foods to be approved by the corporation. Other corporations allow individual franchise owners to put a certain number of their own items on the menu, without corporate approval.  Others allow the franchise owner to develop an entire menu consisting of “non-system” foods.   

“The determination of what is ‘standard’ and what is not become more complicated,” Caldeira said. “In cases where the franchise owner determines the entire menu, the cost of implementation will rest solely on the franchise owner.”

The International Franchise Association supports implementation of nutrition menu labeling, Caldeira added. “Our comments are meant to help the FDA write efficient and effective rules for the franchised small businesses that make up most restaurant chains,” he said. “We truly appreciate the ongoing dialogue with FDA officials and their willingness to consider reasonable suggestions to the new regulations to ease the burden on small businesses.”

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

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