House supports bill to reduce menu labeling requirements
The US House of Representatives is backing bipartisan legislation offering solutions to ease requirements of FDA’s final chain restaurant menu labeling regulations that are scheduled to go into effect later this year.
The bill—authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.—passed by a vote of 266-144 and will now head to the Senate. According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration opposes the measure, but did not say it would get a presidential veto.
Rodgers’ bill, known as the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, leaves the FDA regulations in place, but would make it easier for some establishments to comply such as allowing grocery stores to use menu boards instead of labeling individual items and permitting restaurants like pizza chains that receive most of their orders remotely to post calorie contents online. The bill also would ensure businesses are not penalized financially for mislabeling on account of human error, according to the Associated Press.
The FDA rules require food establishments with 20 or more locations to provide consumers with calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items. The rules are primarily targeted at restaurants, but many grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters, bakeries and coffee shops also fall under its jurisdiction. Menus will use a 2,000-calorie diet as the baseline for daily nutrition. Additional information such as sodium, fat and sugar will be available upon request.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) commended the house for approving the bill.
“The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017) is not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the inclusion of nutrition information on menus,” says Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “Instead, the bill injects some common sense into the rule by avoiding a one-size fits all system and allowing supermarkets to provide this important information to their customers in ways that are most accessible and useful to the customers for whom it is intended.”