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The National Law Review reported on Friday that "three months before new FDA regulations take effect that require restaurants and similar retail food establishments (in chains of 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and selling substantially similar menu items) to provide calorie and other nutrition information for standard menu items, Congress has again introduced legislation to modify the requirements."

The proposed legislation "does not reduce the amount of nutritional information that must be provided by restaurants and retailers," the story says, but does provide "flexibility in determining how to disclose nutrition information ... The bill would also reduce penalties and liability under certain circumstances, and allow the opportunity for establishments to correct mistakes after receiving a notice of the violation from FDA. Sponsors of the bill estimate that new menu labeling requirements will cost nearly $1 billion for just grocers, in addition to requiring 14.5 million hours of paperwork."

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) were among the food industry trade associations applauding the new legislation.

"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," said Peter Larkin, president/CEO of NGA. "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."

And FMI president/CEO Leslie Sarasin added: “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 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."
KC's View:
I'm hardly an expert on the ins and outs of Washington, but this strikes me as a slam-dunk ... the changes have bipartisan support, and some sort of flexibility depending on format and category would seem to make a certain amount of sense. As long as the goal is nutritional transparency, I'm certainly is okay with it.