Lawmakers seek to limit ObamaCare calorie count regulation

Government regulations that require companies to list the number of calories in the foods and drinks they sell are coming under fire from Capitol Hill.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, backed by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), would curb the requirements, which were issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under ObamaCare.

Restaurants would still be required to provide calorie counts for regular menu items under the legislation, but most grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and movie theaters would be exempted.

“Think about it this way: For companies like Domino’s Pizza, every potential toppings combination — well over 5 million options would have to be calculated and publicized,” Rodgers said in a statement. “This requirement simply is not workable.”

The FDA issued the controversial menu labeling requirements last November.

The menu labeling requirements, which were ordered in the healthcare reform law, apply not only to chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, but also entertainment venues like movie theaters, sports stadiums, amusement parks, bowling alleys and miniature golf course that serve prepared foods.

Public health groups praised the menu labeling requirements, arguing they provide consumers with more information about the foods they eat. 

The National Restaurant Association is also backing the menu labeling requirements as written, saying restaurants want to compete on a level playing field with other companies that sell prepared foods. 

“As grocery stores and convenience stores continue to sell restaurant food, they should be subject to the same rules as others, allowing consumers to make informed decisions about what they eat regardless of where they were purchased,” Dan Roehl, vice president of government affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement.

But many other companies that serve prepared foods say they will not be able to comply with the rules.  

“Adhering to burdensome menu labeling requirements will be extremely costly — in both time and resources — for restaurants, grocery stores, delivery chains, and movie theaters across our country,” Rodgers said.

The new legislation would exempt companies that make less than 50 percent of their revenue from prepared food sales. Restaurants would still be required to comply with the menu labeling requirements, but many grocery stores and convenience stores would not.

The rule goes into effect on Dec. 1.

Tags Cathy McMorris Rodgers

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