House Passes Bill Loosening Calorie Disclosure Rules

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According to USA Today, the Common Sense Nutritional Disclosure Act passed the House by a vote of 266-144 in February. This act essentially guts a proposed rule by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would require pizzeria chains, delis and convenience stores to list the calorie content of meals on their menus or prominently displayed menu boards. Instead, grocers and takeout restaurants can merely choose to post calorie content on their website.

Congress had delayed implementation of FDA’s menu labeling rule as part of the massive “omnibus” spending bill passed late last year and eliminated the December 1, 2016 implementation deadline, setting no alternative date of compliance.

Supporters of the bill argue that the original FDA rule demonstrated government overreach and that it would be impractical for restaurants like Michigan-based Dominos Pizza, to list the calorie content of their many combinations of pizza. “We have a classic example of the administration overreaching with a top-down, big government approach,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI.

Detractor Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL., argues that such pizzerias would, in fact, only have to display calorie content of standard menu items, not the vast combinations. In addition, the bill also allows restaurants to define serving sizes in misleading ways, such as providing the calories of one chicken wing and not the entire order. “This unnecessary legislation would deny consumers critical information about the food that we eat,” said Schakowsky.

An identical bill has been introduced to the Senate by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO. for consideration by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online 3/7/2016