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Menu Labeling: Another Job-Killing Regulation in ObamaCare
5 years ago

By Leah Barkoukis 

Problems in society are rarely solved by Washington bureaucrats yet they seem to have taken the adage, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ to heart. Accordingly, the government is addressing the nation’s growing obesity epidemic with a regulation: Section 4205, the menu labeling provision attached to ObamaCare meant to “aid consumers in selecting more healthful diets.” As currently written, however, the regulation will likely have job-killing effects and result in little, if any, significant reductions in obesity rates and/or improved health.

The provision requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards. According to the Food Marketing Institute(FMI), a national standard was supported by the restaurant industry as a way to "preempt the patchwork of various state and municipal menu labeling laws.” The rules designed by the FDA, however, eschew more common sense approaches to implementing the law. The American Pizza Community, a coalition of pizza franchises, and FMI, the association representing America’s grocery stores, are cognizant of the effects the regulation will have on the industries they represent and thus, have advanced a legislative solution: the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. 

Lynn Liddle, executive vice president of communications, legislative affairs and investor relations for Domino’s Pizza, tells Townhall that the Common Sense Act would, as its name suggests, make a number of sensible changes. For example, since 90 percent of pizza customers get their food delivered, small businesses shouldn’t be subjected to putting calorie information on menu boards in stores that most people will never step foot in. As the bill addresses, these types of restaurants should be allowed to provide a remote-access menu. The ability to use an online menu would also alleviate the burden of putting calorie information for countless pizza combinations on a menu board -- Domino’s alone has 34 million pizza combinations (they did the algorithm), which would be impossible to display in stores anyway. The FDA’s rules also require the signage to display calorie ranges for a whole pizza, forcing the consumer to do the math for individual slices. Liddle says that in their stores in New York City where a similar law is in place, most people either didn’t look at the menu or they thought the calorie range was a "coupon code or something.” Instead, the bill calls for labeling by the serving size, thereby making it easier for customers to understand.    



This post was modified from its original form on 26 Nov, 5:26
5 years ago

For the pizza community, estimates for the cost of signage reach up to $4,700 per year depending on how often products are updated. Despite being part of a big brand name like Domino’s Pizza, the cost will be incurred by the franchise owners, which Liddle says are mom and pop operations. The nearly $5,000 is an added expense against marginal profits, she says, which doesn’t include the uncertainties associated with future costs of food, minimum wage increases and the possibility of more regulations.

“You can only ask the consumer to pay so much,” she explains. “People like pizza because it’s good and it’s a value. You can feed a family of four for $25 bucks or under. So that’s one of the attractions to pizza and so we don’t want to raise prices to our customers, and truly, we can’t. So what does it mean? It means they’ll hire fewer people, it will mean that some stores will close.” Plain and simple, the franchise owners will not be able to afford additional cost burdens.

In a truly unprecedented move and despite the fact that 95 percent of what’s in a supermarket is already labeled, grocery stores may become subject to the regulation as well because of the language FDA uses in its proposed rule: “restaurants and similar retail food establishments.” Again, if the provision is implemented as written, “It’s gonna have a huge impact on whether they have to scale back a store. In this economic environment, they’re having trouble keeping stores open period…or scale back fresh offerings,” FMI’s director of government relations Robert Rosado explains. “It’s silly when literally you take produce and just because you cut it then that triggers you being in this thing. It’s very counter-intuitive.” With already high commodity and energy costs, the internalization of expenses has gone as far as it can, he adds.

And what about the research showing menu labeling helps reduce obesity rates and increase overall health? FMI’s Erik Lieberman writes:

“It has been estimated by industry that the costs of extending menu labeling to supermarkets will exceed $1 billion in the first year of compliance alone, and hundreds of million of dollars annually thereafter. Meanwhile, the evidence that menu labeling has any significant impact on public health is scant. Indeed, of the studies FDA cites in the rule, most demonstrate that menu labeling has little to no effect on purchasing habits. Furthermore, no study shows any link to reduction of obesity rates, the purported benefit which FDA used to justify the menu labeling regulation.”

APC and FMI are not asking that the regulation is placed on the chopping block. Through the Common Sense Act, however, they are pushing a less burdensome approach.

“On behalf of the pizza industry…we just want to do what we do best,” Liddle says. “We want to make pizza…we don’t really want to be in Washington. We’re doing it reluctantly to protect our small business people that are involved in this and we want to do the right thing for the consumers.”

Liddle suggests people write letters to their representatives asking them to co-sponsor the bill and help move it along in the lame duck session of Congress.


5 years ago

this is more of Obamacare, controlling peoples' health in food selections.  We are what we eat, and eating in moderation controls many problems but too many freeloaders don't bother to pay attention.  When you do nothing all day long, more than likely, these people eat junk foods.

I rarely see thin poor people.

I see lots of heavy poor people.

I assume it is unwise eating; however, you can eat what you want if you work it off.

But working is a NO word in their dictionary.

5 years ago

Didn't the federal control freaks just push "healthy' school lunch menus and that went over so well that the kids protested? It seems that was another in their "one size fits all" "progressive" agenda items that ignored reality. Come to think of it just about everything the federal control freaks do (and their "leaders" in the administration, the Demagogue Party and academia as well) ignores reality from the "scientific" basis for "global climate whatever" adn the latest environmentalist craze through whatever their agenda items of the moment are. Slap a nice sounding but false label on it like the "Patient Protections and Affordable Health Care" Act (which neither protects patients nor does anything to make "health care" affordable) and we should all swoon and fall in line with Big Brother/Big Sister's latest effort to "help" us poor ignorant masses out of the consequences of our "mistakes". And this is the same crew that is pushing "recreational" drug legalization, "free sex" anytime/anywhere/with anyone or anything, and any type of activity that keeps us from looking too closely at what they are up to.

5 years ago

John, you are absolutely right.  Just a little update, my granddaughter (junior in high school) was so hungry due to school lunches, that she now takes a lunch from home.  They were getting a serving spoon size portion of salad (yes, lettuce salad) with no dressing and nothing added, just lettuce, and 1/2 an apple for lunch on the new program; no other choice on "salad" day.  It was that bad about anything; no more pizza, mac and cheese, chicken patties, hamburgers, chili, burritos, tacos, or anything like that.  They would get 2 veggie choices and 2 fruit choices and milk.  The kids were all hungry and it made it hard to study.  She now takes very healthy food items and in proper portions, but enough that she is able to feel she is full and therefore has more energy to study.

The two grandsons, both in elementary school (one in first and one in third) were also hungry.  They would come home from school and could not wait for dinner they were so hungry.  They, also, were getting 2 veggies (one of which was their tablespoon of salad) and 2 fruits.  If they had chicken tenders, it was 2 bite-sized pieces of chicken, grilled and that was all the protein.  

Talking to the district dietician, it was not the school district's decision, it is what they were mandated by the Federal Government to serve the kids and they were to stay under 500 calories.  It is very expensive for the school district to serve food this way, thus no new textbooks this year and in the high school my granddaughter has to share her Calculus textbook with 2 other students; they get to bring it home to study only every 3rd day and cannot take it home on the weekend as that would not be fair to the others.  I forgot, the reason that it is so costly for the district food budget is that the veggies have to be fresh, no prepackaged salad mix, etc.  No frozen veggies, either, or canned.  They have to buy fresh and prepare them.  Chicken can't be frozen it has to be fresh chicken breasts that are cut into chunks and then grilled with the student getting only 2 pieces.  Fruit has to be fresh, no canned or frozen.  It doubled the food budget to do this.  No more fruit juice for breakfasts, either; only milk and if they have oatmeal or other cereal they do not get milk to drink, too.  

So, that is the "healthy Michelle fights obesity in children" food program.  Costly, kids hungry, unable to study, no money for essentials like textbooks; but it is Michelle's new program.

5 years ago

Linda: Very interesting and enlightening with real experiences that kids are running into. Mommy government under the likes of Michelle the belle knows best!!!!! We are dealing with another crew of clueless "perfectionists" like we saw in the Wilson and FDR administrations that are even more radical and ignorant than those clowns and who actually hate the US rather than just deciding the way things were at the time didn't fit their vision of "utopia". And we will have these clowns for AT LEAST four more years since there isn't going to be any meaningful opposition to their activities.

5 years ago

The two clowns, Barack and Michelle, are operating from a position of no concrete foundation in knowing anything.   

5 years ago

John, wish I could say this won't be the case, but you are right and it is time we accept the fact that he is there and find ways, now. to make sure that we stop as much of what he is planning as possible.  The message has to get to Congress that it is time to "man up" and stop the Obama steamroller.  I don't know if or how it can be done, but would like to hear some thoughts, John, on this.

5 years ago

I tend to agree with John as there will be no meaningful opposition to their activities until they are out of office.  I think the republicans are still stunned as much as we are here on PD.


It is unbelievable that a incompetent person like Obama gets another 4 more yrs.  It is unbelievable.  We are still trying to comprehend who, how, what happened.  It is going on 3 wks. since the election and it is still unsettling.


We need to study everything from the campaign, candidate, platform, consultants, ads ran, raising money, debate style, internet propoganda, MSM manipulation, Hollywood interfrence or support, etc.  

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