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Both the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) offered their support today for legislation written to ensure the proposed Menu Labeling Law applies solely to restaurants and not to food retailers.
According to the trade groups, the restaurant menu labeling provision, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was originally intended to provide a uniform standard for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations in order to preempt the various state and local menu labeling laws.
FMI regulatory counsel Erik Lieberman released the following statement in support of efforts by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) to reintroduce the bipartisan Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R. 1249, into the 113th Congress: “Congress never intended for supermarkets to be regulated under menu labeling, and this bipartisan legislation reflects concerns that the agency has overreached. PPACA [Patient Protection Affordable Care Act] did not grant FDA authority to regulate supermarkets as restaurants. FDA has even acknowledged in the rule that Congress did not direct them to regulate grocery stores."
“This legislation emphasizes that food retailers do not want to argue over semantics or assumptions," Lieberman continued. "The language, ‘similar retail food establishments,’ never meant to cover traditional grocery stores. By definition, grocery stores are not restaurants, and traditional supermarkets do not have menus or menu boards for displaying similar information as restaurants."
“The vast majority of foods in supermarkets are already labeled with complete Nutrition Facts information," he noted. "The menu labeling rule imposes a billion dollar burden on supermarkets — without even a penny’s worth of consumer benefit quantified by FDA. Our industry is rooted in customer service and value, so we commend Representatives McMorris Rodgers and Sanchez for introducing legislation that will preserve consumer choice and prevent increased costs at the register."
Greg Ferrara, VP of public affairs for NGA, said in a statement: "This legislation ensures independent retail grocers are not subjected to millions of dollars in new and unnecessary expenses and administrative burdens because of regulatory overreach. Grocery stores are not chain restaurants, which is why Congress did not include them in the law. NGA and its members look forward to working with Congress to pass this important legislation so that our members can remain focused on growing their businesses and creating jobs."