Late last week the House passed legislation that would significantly undermine FDA's menu labeling requirements passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. Set to take effect at the end of 2016, grocery stores and the pizza industry in particular have claimed that the requirements are "overly burdensome and unrealistic." Under the current legislation, menu labeling will be mandated for all national chains with 20 or more locations.
Yet the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, as it's smartly called, provides loopholes for many in the food industry and prevents consumers from easily gathering nutrition information needed to make informed choices. Critics of the current menu labeling legislation claim that it does not "take into account the unique characteristics of fresh and prepared food sold at grocery stores that vary by location."
HR 2017, the anything-but-common-sense-act, allows menu labeling to only apply to "standard menu items," that are prepared across the chain (rather than a food sold at just a few outlets). The legislation also exempts supermarkets from labeling individual items and can instead use a menu or menu board.
On the take-out front, HR 2017 allows posting of nutrition information on the internet if the majority of orders are placed by those off-premises when the order is placed. No doubt, the pizza industry is thrilled.
As Politico reported, "The American Pizza Community cheered the move Friday. "This bill will allow our small business owners to get back to doing what they do best: making pizza, said Lynn Liddle, chairwoman of APC and executive vice president of communications and investor relations at Domino's. "We will also continue to provide our customers with the most important nutrition information, as many of us have been doing for a decade."
Yet Center for Science in the Public Interest sees it differently. In a release posted on February 12th, the organization states "the “Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act,” which would allow restaurants and other food establishments to make up their own serving sizes, deny customers calorie information on menu boards inside pizza chains and many other restaurants, and weaken enforcement and consumer protection."
The food industry can make this happen. Let's make it easier for consumers to get accurate and complete nutrition information. This legislation seems to do just the opposite.