Reps. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-Mo.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) signed the letter.
The labeling requirement is written into healthcare law, but the lawmakers said FDA could revise its proposed rule to make compliance easier. They said drive-through restaurants should be able to provide a pamphlet with nutrition information next to their menu boards, rather than on the menu itself. Local zoning regulations might ban menus large enough to accommodate all of the newly required information, they said.
“While the goals of the FDA in this case are admirable when it comes to the health of Americans, the additional costs associated with these government regulations is going to end up costing jobs and hinder the economic well-being of these critical small businesses,” a Leutkemeyer spokesman said.
The restaurant industry had long opposed menu labeling proposals, but it accepted the policy in the healthcare law largely because it preempts state and local requirements. Several jurisdictions — including New York City, California, and the county that includes Seattle — had passed more aggressive labeling requirements before the federal law took effect.
Industry groups registered few specific complaints with the proposed rule as the window for comments closed last week. They asked the FDA to extend the comment period for another 30 days, saying the proposed rule is too complex to analyze in the 60 days the FDA provided.
“The proposed rule will have a sweeping effect on the restaurant and retail food industry,” the National Restaurant Association said in a statement. “It will affect a wide array of establishments including chain restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, and convenience stores … The affected industries and other stakeholders need more time to analyze the proposed rule, conduct consumer research if appropriate, and coordinate a consistent response.”
The organization said an additional 30 days for public comment would not undermine the FDA’s goal of finalizing the regulations by the end of the year.