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The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, a move that has earned cheers from industry trade groups for softening the FDA's restaurant menu-labeling regulations as they apply to supermarkets.
"[This legislation] is not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the inclusion of nutrition information on menus," said Leslie G. Sarasin, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) president/CEO. "Instead, the bill injects some common sense into the rule by avoiding a one-size-fits-all system and allowing supermarkets to provide this important information to their customers in ways that are most accessible and useful to the customers for whom it is intended.”
She further noted that the Arlington, Va.-based trade group has "fervently pursued legislation because FDA has not been able to resolve through regulation the supermarket industry’s recorded concerns and needed clarification.
"With the quickly approaching deadline for compliance, FMI members desperately need this helpful bipartisan legislative resolution," she said.
Added National Grocers Association President/CEO Peter J. Larkin: "H.R. 2017 contains important regulatory fixes and provides flexibility for supermarkets to continue serving their consumers with local and unique food choices while ensuring consumers receive clear nutritional information."
Additionally, FMI made note of particular provisions of the Common Sense Act as it pertains to supermarkets:
- Allowing use of a menu or menu board in a prepared food area or next to a salad bar instead of requiring individual labeling of every item;
- Preserving local foods or fresh items that may only be sold at one or two store or restaurant locations;
- Allowing an establishment to take corrective actions within 90 days prior to federal, state or municipal enforcement, thereby providing some degree of liability protection; and
- Not modifying or weakening FDA’s or state officials’ current oversight/enforcement authority.
The FDA finalized menu labeling regulations at the direction of the Affordable Care Act in November 2014. The regulations require that chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations list caloric information on their menus and menu boards.