The National Grocers Association (NGA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) offered their support to cosponsors of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, HR 2017, a bipartisan bill reintroduced into Congress on Tuesday with the goal of addressing what the groups say is the FDA’s misinterpretation of a chain restaurant menu labeling law that includes supermarkets.
NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin on Tuesday participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill advocating for the legislation that would scale back the FDA’s final menu labeling rules, which were released in late 2014. The bipartisan press conference, held by U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) and Loretta Sanchez (D-California), highlighted the introduction of HR 17.
“Independent grocers interact with their customers on a daily basis and are committed to providing the communities they serve with high-quality service and food choices,” Larkin said. “In order to meet the demands of their consumers, supermarket operators will customize product selection and variety to the unique needs of the local community. NGA applauds Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Loretta Sanchez for introducing this common-sense legislation and for seeking to address the confusion and challenges that have resulted from the FDA’s chain restaurant menu labeling rule. We are grateful for the leadership that Congresswoman Rodgers has provided for this important issue and we look forward to working with Congress to pass this key legislation.”
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin added, “Grocery stores want to provide customers with nutrition information and have done so for a very long time. The lack of time, guidance and flexibility by FDA compels us to seek the legislative process to address these critical, outstanding issues to minimize the significant economic impact and customer confusion this rule has created.
“FMI supports the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 because it helps address fundamental problems with FDA’s final menu labeling regulations, such as protecting grocery stores that do not have menus or menu boards; limiting the regulations to foods that are truly standardized at 20 or more locations; providing flexibility on the placement and display of nutritional information where customers make their purchasing decisions; and allowing adequate time for regulated stakeholders to properly implement the law.”
The legislation will reinforce issues on which FMI says it has continually solicited guidance from FDA:
• Allow for up to two years for compliance following publication of updated final regulations, and at least one year for compliance with FDA published guidance;
• Clarify that the menu labeling law is intended for “standard menu items,” defined as those items prepared with uniformity and routinely included on a menu or menu board at 20 or more locations;
• Provide some flexibility on the placement and display, such as font-sizing, of nutritional information where customers make their purchasing decisions; and
• Provide liability protection by allowing an establishment to take corrective actions within 90-days prior to federal, state and municipal enforcement and protects against frivolous civil actions.