Last updated on June 9th, 2015 at 04:16 pm
The federal House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing last week examining the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. The bipartisan legislation would revise the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu labeling regulations by providing covered restaurants and other retail food establishments, including convenience stores, more flexibility in how they provide calorie information to consumers.
Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart and former chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), testified at the hearing and urged the committee to pass the bill as expeditiously as possible in light of the rapidly approaching Dec. 1 compliance deadline under FDA’s rules. “The convenience store industry strongly supports. . .efforts to provide consumers the nutrition information they want,” Hubbard said in her testimony. “The industry simply wants to be able to provide this information in ways that are practical for our businesses and useful for our customers.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, the primary author of H.R. 2017, announced at the hearing that she plans to eliminate language in her legislation that would effectively exempt many convenience stores and grocery stores from the menu labeling requirements.
A consistent theme of last week’s hearing was that convenience stores acquire, prepare and sell food in a manner that is different than chain restaurants.
“Many chain restaurants sell the same food offerings, prepared in the same way, and displayed on the same menu, and all of their locations,” Hubbard testified. “That is not true of the convenience store industry. Convenience stores—even those that are part of the same chain—sell different foods based on their location and market demand.” These distinctions, Hubbard said, inject a level of complexity and cost into menu labeling compliance efforts that the chain restaurant industry will generally not have to assume.