Feb 02, 2017 / Regulations

House and Senate Members Partner to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Bring Common Sense Fixes to Menu Labeling Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 2, 2017) –This week Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) introduced the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 772) in the House, and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced a companion bill (S. 261) in the Senate. Upon the introduction of the legislation, the members released the following statements:

Said Representative McMorris Rodgers: “Whether you buy food at the local convenience store or eat out at the neighborhood diner, you should have access to important 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. 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.”

Said Representative Cárdenas: “Access to nutrition information is essential for a healthy life. Americans deserve to know this information to help them make healthy choices about what they eat. That being said, as a former small business owner, I understand it can be difficult to comply with burdensome and confusing federal regulations. This bill is a win-win – it clarifies complex FDA regulations and gives small businesses  the flexibility they need to provide their customers with this information.  I’m proud to introduce this common-sense measure that addresses both  the needs of small businesses and consumers.”

Said Senator Blunt: “We need some common sense relief to the FDA’s menu labeling requirements so that it is reasonable and achievable for local convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and others that sell food. Small businesses are already having to spend money trying to comply with difficult and unworkable regulations. I am pleased to work with Chair McMorris Rodgers and introduce the companion bill in the Senate. Our bill recognizes the importance of menu labeling, but more importantly recognizes that there needs to be flexibility for businesses so they can provide important nutritional information to customers in the most useful way.”

Said Senator King: “Regulations play an important role in keeping people safe, but we have to ensure they are smart, targeted, and effective. Otherwise, they will only stifle economic growth. This bipartisan, bicameral bill is a scale-appropriate approach to menu labeling regulations that will provide consumers with the information they need without unnecessarily burdening food providers, like Maine grocers.”

BACKGROUND:

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which passed the House in the 114th Congress by a strong bipartisan vote of 266-144, ensures that consumers continue to have access to important nutritional information, while also providing flexibility for businesses to use and leverage 21st Century technology to display the information. The act does not diminish the amount of nutritional information that must be provided by restaurants and retailers and instead clarifies the unworkable and overly complex regulations the Food and Drug Administration finalized in November 2014.

Immediate enactment of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act reconciles the FDA’s one-size-fits-all regulation ahead of its full compliance date of May 5, 2017 – a mere three months away. A failure to fix the regulation will force America’s business owners to begin preparation for compliance – if they have not been forced to do so already – to avoid excessive civil and criminal penalties. That compliance comes at a high cost, especially for small business owners. It’s estimated that this regulation will cost nearly $1 billion – and that’s just for grocers. Coupled with the predicted 14.5 million hours of paperwork, this is one of the most expensive and onerous regulations of the Obama administration.

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