business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Politico reports that despite political polarization in the US, more than a year into the Trump administration a food policy rule formulated during the Obama administration is being implemented - the requirement that calorie counts be posted “at thousands of restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters, representing a milestone change in how the food industry shares information with the American public.”

This rule, described as “an oft-forgotten” Obamacare provision, “is being pushed over the finish line by a Trump nominee, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who says the labeling requirement is simply about transparency.”

“I do not see these nutrition issues as a right-versus-left issue,” Gottlieb says. “Using information as a vehicle to try to inspire competition is a conservative notion.” Gottlieb says that the obesity epidemic remains a significant public health issue, and labeling is a legitimate response: “I’m quite sure that a lot of conservatives, including myself, have turned over packages in stores to look at the calorie information and the nutrition information and appreciate that that information is there.”

In addition, Politico writes, the FDA “is moving forward on an update to nutrition labels championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as on voluntary sodium reduction targets, which is hugely controversial to some processed food interests.”

The story notes that “the menu labeling rule, which was finalized in 2014 after repeated delays during the Obama administration, applies to chains with 20 or more locations that sell prepared foods similar to what you might get in a restaurant — a definition that applies to everything from appetizers to beer and wine listed by the glass. Businesses are supposed to post calories for each food on their menu right where a consumer will see it as they decide what to order … The rule means that everything from the jumbo buttery popcorn at the movies to the taquitos sold at 7-Eleven and Starbucks‘ mocha grandes will have to show calorie counts right on the menu. Many restaurant chains support and are already complying with the new rule, including Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Panera and McDonald’s.”

Go figure.
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