New federal menu labeling regulations that pose an unreasonable burden on many businesses, particularly convenience stores, could be replaced with more targeted rules under legislation introduced last week by U.S. Representative John Carter (R-Texas). Carter was joined by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) as he introduced the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2012.
The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), signed into law in March 2010, would require chain restaurants, “similar retail food establishments,” and vending machines with 20 or more locations to provide specific nutritional information—including calorie-counts—on menus, menu boards, and drive-thru boards. Self-service items such as buffets and salad bars must contain caloric information “adjacent” to the item. Retailers would have to provide additional nutrition information in writing upon request.
The new legislation offers a less burdensome approach to menu labeling and includes language addressing the types of retail locations that are covered by the requirements. Specifically, the legislation limits the provision in Section 4205 of PPACA to establishments that derive 50% or more of their revenue from food that is intended for immediate consumption or prepared and processed on site. Prepackaged food would not be considered in this equation.
NACS hailed Carter’s legislation as a thoughtful approach to providing the necessary flexibility and understanding of c-store foodservice operations. Given that last year 17% of convenience stores’ in-store revenue dollars were derived from prepackaged food, according to NACS State of the Industry data, most c-stores would be exempt under the new legislation.
For those c-stores that would be covered by federal menu-labeling requirements, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act provides more flexibility with compliance. Retailers could select from several approaches in providing calorie information. For instance, pizza sellers could provide calories per slice or for the whole pizza. The legislation also would allow retailers more flexibility in providing calorie ranges as opposed to a specific number, which is often more difficult to define with made-to-order food. (CSP Daily News: www.cspnet.com)