New Legislation Would Provide Retailers Flexibility in Meeting Menu Labeling Regulations

Texas Rep. John Carter (R) last week introduced H.R. 6174, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2012, which would allow more flexibility for retailers as they seek to comply with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulations regarding calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, other food retail establishments, and on vending machines. The bill calls for a less burdensome approach to menu labeling and includes language addressing the types of retail locations that are covered by the federal requirements. 

As part of the President's healthcare law, FDA rules require any chain restaurant or similar retail food establishment with 20 or more locations under the same banner to display calorie counts on menus and menu boards for all prepared and packaged food items for sale. In addition, buffets and salad bars must contain caloric information “adjacent” to the item. 

Carter's legislation limits those requirements to apply only to restaurants or similar retail food establishments that derive more than 50 percent of their total revenue from the sale of food with prepackaged food not being considered in this equation. For businesses that are covered by the rules, Carter's legislation allows more flexibility in menu labeling, such as allowing calorie ranges as opposed to a specific number, which is difficult in made-to-order situations. 

NATSO joins the convenience store, grocery and pizza industry in support of these menu-labeling reforms.


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