Jul 27, 2017 / Regulations

McMorris Rodgers’ Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act Passes Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 27, 2017) – Today, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) joined the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss her legislation, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 772). Introduced in January, the bill passed today out of committee on a strong bipartisan vote. During today’s markup, Rep. McMorris Rodgers delivered opening remarks on the importance of this legislation to small businesses and their customers in Eastern Washington, and across the country. In case you missed it, you can see her remarks here:

Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ remarks as delivered:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Burgess and Chairman Walden for their attention to this important issue, and Representative Cardenas for co-leading this bill with me. Our joint efforts to clarify and improve these regulations and represent the needs of America’s small business owners is critical. 

When the FDA announced its final rule implementing a national menu labeling standard in 2014, the intent was twofold:
 
Deliver customers increased access to nutrition information; and

Establish a single, uniform national standard.

However, in trying to create a uniform standard, the FDA’s 400-page rule attempts a one-size-fits-all approach to an industry as diverse as its ingredients.

Under the current rule, every deli and salad bar offering, every possible pizza topping combination, will have to be calculated and their calorie count displayed on physical menus.
 
This is problematic for two reasons.
 
First, the “made-to-order” portion of the food industry offers endless, constantly changing combinations of ingredients. For some sandwich shops and pizzerias, the possible variations are in the tens of millions.
 
The FDA wants these restaurants to put on paper all of these variations and their calorie counts, and have it publicly displayed in the restaurants. It’s an unrealistic use of these business owners’ time.
 
Second, the digital and online ordering is now customers’ preferred method of ordering. Nearly 90 percent of orders in some restaurants are placed without an individual ever stepping foot in a brick-and-mortar store. 

So tell me, how does it make sense to force a restaurant to have a physical menu with calorie listings when 90 percent of your customers aren’t going to see it?
 
And how does it make sense to force a customer to navigate millions of combinations to find the nutrition information that matches their order?
Having reliable nutritional information available to consumers is important, which is why today’s discussion is on the practicality of existing regulations – and how we can improve them to benefit the lives of the American people.

Over the years, I have met with stakeholders and other Member offices on this issue countless times. H.R. 772 is the result of those efforts.

This bill is not about the merits of calorie counts.
 
This bill is not and does not remove the requirement of calorie counts on menus.       
 
And this bill certainly does not make it more difficult for customers to receive nutritional information.
 
This bill, at its very core, is about flexibility. 
 
H.R. 772 clarifies the intent of the FDA’s rule and uses technological innovations to provide needed flexibility to America’s business owners.
 
It would permit restaurants, grocers, convenience stores to provide nutrition information in a way consistent with how they operate and how customers actually place orders – including by phone, online, or through mobile apps.
 
By bringing this rule into the 21st Century, customers can trust they are getting the reliable information they need in an easy to access way.
 
It also makes certain that small business owners and their employees are protected from frivolous lawsuits and criminal actions that could arise from an honest, inadvertent human error.  

An employee that puts too many pickles on a sandwich thereby increasing the calorie count stated on the menu should not face criminal charges or class-action lawsuits.
 
This bipartisan legislation, which passed this Committee and the House last Congress, provides access to calorie information in a practical, flexible, and simpler manner by clarifying – not significantly altering – complicated regulations. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisles to support H.R. 722 to bring certainty to the business community and the customers they serve. 
 
Thank you, and I yield back. 

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