U.S. House passes amendment to menu calorie count legislation

February 12, 2018

According to CNN, the U.S. House has passed legislation to amend the calorie count labeling for restaurants and other food establishments. Currently, under the Affordable Care Act, food establishments have until May 7 to comply with requirements to add calorie information labels to the food items they serve and offer. However, the amendment that passed the House on February 6 changes exactly how those restaurants and retail food businesses are to provide the calorie count information to their customers.

Instead of listing the total calories contained in a menu item when it is offered for sale, such as a shared appetizer, businesses would be allowed to provide just the calories per serving in that “multiserving” menu item, without disclosing total calories. The legislation would also allow certain businesses, such as carry-out restaurants whose majority of customers order meals off-premises, to post such information on the internet as the sole method of disclosure instead of on the premises of the business.

The legislation, called the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, is about flexibility, according to U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who introduced the bill. “This legislation provides flexibility in how restaurants provide the nutritional information. It makes it easier for customers to actually see and understand the information because it’s displayed where customers actually place orders, including by phone, online, or through mobile apps,” she said. “By bringing this rule into the 21st century, customers can trust that they’re getting reliable information in a way that is easy to access and is customer-user friendly.”

While some believe this could make it harder for consumers to make informed choices about what they eat, others—including trade associations representing supermarkets, pizza companies, and convenience stores—are applauding the House passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act.

“In passing the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (CSNDA) today, the U.S. House of Representatives has reached a critical milestone toward the shared goals of providing consumers the information they need to make wise nutritional choices—without burdening them with higher prices and reduced choices, or exposing small businesses and their employees to insurmountable barriers to compliance, crippling costs, and potential criminal penalties for innocent mistakes,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations at NACS, in a statement. “With the May 7 compliance deadline looming for regulations promulgated by the FDA, we now urge the U.S. Senate to expeditiously take and enact this legislation.”

CNN article

Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act

NACS statement