WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration indicated it will officially withdraw Aug. 25, 2010, "draft guidance" for restaurants on how to follow new federal menu-labeling rules, according to the National Restaurant Association. Instead, the FDA plans to follow a formal rulemaking process before enforcing any of the law's requirements for restaurants. This will "minimize uncertainty and confusion among all interested parties," FDA said.

NRA supports this approach and believed August's draft guidance meant restaurants could have been required to comply with two different sets of rules – complying with "guidance" at first and then with final regulations later. Switching out menus and menu boards to reflect a two-step implementation would have added cost and confusion for restaurants, and confusion and uncertainty for guests.

FDA has until March 23 to issue proposed regulations on nutrition-labeling rules for restaurants. The draft rules will spell out how the FDA intends for restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same brand name to post calories on menus and make other nutrition data available on request.

Once it issues draft rules, the FDA will take comments for 60 days. The agency said it hopes to issue a final regulation by the end of 2011, with a compliance date around mid-2012.