Bipartisan legislation to address problems with FDA menu labeling

ARLINGTON, VA, 2017-Feb-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — Food Marketing Institute (FMI) renewed the supermarket industry’s support for the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 772/S. 261). This bipartisan legislation introduced today (February 2, 2017) addresses persistent problems with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu labeling final rule. FMI urges support of this legislation to allow these changes to be enacted and implemented prior to FDA’s upcoming compliance date, scheduled to be on May 5, 2017.

FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin stated:

“We applaud Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME), and their bipartisan co-sponsors for their continued commitment to addressing the problems supermarkets have been facing with a “square-peg-in-a-round-hole” approach to FDA’s application of menu labeling in grocery stores. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 772/S. 261) is exactly what its title indicates: a sensible approach to providing nutrition transparency to customers while providing flexibility for supermarkets to successfully implement the requirements of the regulation. We commit our support to enacting this critical legislation as soon as possible and for actions to be taken so these modifications can be implemented prior to FDA’s moving forward with compliance enforcement.”

Key provisions of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act:

  • Protects local food items only sold at a few stores
  • Allows the use of a menu or menu board in a prepared foods area
  • Ensures advertisements, signs and other marketing materials are not regulated as “menus”
  • Allows use of a website or app as a means for compliance for ordered items, such as pre-ordered sandwiches, catering or delivery.
  • Secures enforcement and liability protections for good-faith compliance efforts and inadvertent human errors

FMI seeks passage of this legislation because despite the supermarket industry’s numerous meetings, conference calls, and conversations with the agency at all levels over the last six years, FDA did not fix these problems in its final rule or its guidance, which has ultimately led to complications, confusion, and delays. The text of the legislation being introduced today mirrors that passed with broad bipartisan support in the previous congress by the House of Representatives. FMI is very grateful to Representatives McMorris Rodgers and Cardenas, and Senators Blunt and King for their leadership.

Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit www.fmi.org and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit www.fmifoundation.org.

Contact:

Tel: 202-452-8444
Fax: 202-429-4519

Source: FMI

NACS welcomes the reintroduction of legislation on menu labeling regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C., 2017-Feb-03 — /EPR Retail News/ — The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) today (2/2/2017) applauded the reintroduction of legislation to protect small businesses and their workers from the unreasonable burdens and potential criminal penalties of the Food and Drug Administration’s final menu labeling regulations.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, reintroduced by Representatives Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA 5) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA 29) in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 772) and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME) in the U.S. Senate (S. 261), provides a more practical and flexible approach to regulations finalized in 2014 by the FDA. The FDA is due to begin enforcing the current regulations on May 5, 2017.

“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 introduce this bill that 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 U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) also weighed in: “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 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.”

NACS has called for rapid action by Congress and the new administration as the May 5 compliance deadline nears. Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president of government relations, stated, “It is critical that Congress and the new administration act quickly before the May 5 compliance deadline to provide for common-sense, simpler menu-labeling regulations that would ensure more nutritional information and choice for consumers—without exposing small businesses to burdensome costs and penalties and their employees to potential felony prosecution for accidentally putting too many pickles in a sandwich.”

The current FDA menu-labeling regulations create rigid requirements that do not take into account the differences in approach to foodservice between big-chain restaurants and convenience stores, grocery stores and delivery operations.  In particular, the FDA regulations added unfair costs and compliance barriers to establishments with offerings that do not appear on a centralized “menu” board and establishments that may have multiple coffee, frozen drink and food islands as opposed to the central ordering point in a traditional fast food restaurant.  The regulations also place a store or restaurant at risk for criminal penalties if it gives some customers larger servings than they expected based on the calorie information provided.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, which passed the House last year by a strong bipartisan vote of 266–144, maintains but modifies FDA’s menu-labeling regulations so businesses may provide nutritional information to customers in a more practical format. The legislation protects small businesses from overly burdensome costs and penalties, while also removing the possibility of criminal penalties.

Convenience store foodservice sales have risen to $42 billion a year—now accounting for nearly 19% of total in-store revenues—as busy customers look for fast and healthier options to go.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, conducts 160 million transactions a day, sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the country and had total sales of $575 billion in 2015. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Source: NACS

NGA applauds introduction of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017

Arlington, VA, 2017-Feb-03 — /EPR Retail News/ — The National Grocers Association (NGA) today (Feb 2, 2017) applauded the introduction of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 772, S. 261), a bipartisan bill that clarifies the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule regarding menu labeling at restaurants and similar retail food establishments, which includes grocery stores with 20 or more locations. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA) in the House, and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Angus King (I-ME) in the Senate.

“Independent supermarket operators are committed to providing their customers with transparent information about the products they sell, however grocers continue to face challenges and uncertainty with implementing a regulation that was originally designed for chain restaurants. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act provides the needed flexibility in how nutritional information is disclosed to customers based on the different ways that foods are prepared and sold across various supermarket venues and formats. Additionally, the bill protects store associates who make inadvertent mistakes and provides stores with 90 days to take corrective steps prior to any enforcement action,” said NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. “NGA applauds Representatives McMorris Rodgers and Cardenas and Senators Blunt and King for championing this important issue. We look forward to working with them and their colleagues in the House and Senate to advance this common sense legislative fix to an unworkable regulation.”

The FDA finalized menu labeling regulations at the direction of the Affordable Care Act in November of 2014. The regulations require that chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations list caloric information on their menus and menu boards.  The regulation is set to go into effect on May 5, 2017. NGA has actively engaged with Members of Congress and the FDA throughout the regulatory process to ensure a workable solution for supermarkets.

Contact:

Tel: (703) 516-0700
Fax: (703) 516-0115

Source: NGA