U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would provide food retailers greater flexibility as they seek to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu-labeling regulations, which are set to take effect in May.
The bipartisan Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R. 772/S. 261, was introduced on Jan. 31 in the House by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and on Feb. 1, 2017, by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Angus King (I-Maine) in the Senate.
The FDA's menu-labeling rule presents a number of complexities for travel stores and convenience stores that sell prepared food and is exceedingly burdensome for small business franchisees. The rule requires any chain restaurant or similar retail food establishment with 20 or more locations to display calorie counts on menus and menu boards for all prepared and packaged food items for sale.
The companion bills introduced this week would require FDA to revise its current menu-labeling rules to make it easier for food retailers and restaurant operators to comply while also revising the enforcement and liability rules to eliminate excessive and disproportionate penalties.
NATSO applauds the introduction of the measure, which would provide much needed flexibility to fuel retailers and shield them from possible criminal penalties under the FDA menu-labeling rules.
FDA is currently scheduled to begin enforcing calorie labeling requirements May 5, 2017.
Rep. McMorris-Rodgers criticized the FDA's one-size-fits-all approach to the requirement that foodservice outlets provide nutritional information.
“The FDA’s one-size-fits-all approach places additional burdens on the backs of our nation’s small business owners without giving them the flexibility they need to actually comply with the regulations,” Rep. McMorris-Rodgers said in a statement. “How businesses provide that information should be consistent with how their customers actually place orders – including by phone, online or through mobile apps. By bringing this rule into the 21st Century, we can provide relief to our job creators and preserve important nutritional information for American families at the same time.”
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