NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FDA Menu Labeling Law Overreaches

December 1, 2014

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it included a provision requiring restaurants to display nutritional information for their menu items. Specifically, the rule applied to "a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations."

The Food and Drug Administration proposed a regulation to implement the new requirement in 2011, but Daren Bakst of the Heritage Foundation contends the agency went far beyond what was required by the law. Instead of applying the nutrition mandate to traditional food establishments, the agency included grocery stores and convenience stores as well: as long as the stores sold prepared food, they would be required to include nutritional information for their products. This means, says Bakst, that a convenience store whose only prepared food offering is a hot dog would still be required to comply with the labeling requirements.

Now, the agency has released its final rule. Rather than scale back its 2011 proposal, the FDA has only increased the reach of the regulation: movie theaters and bowling alleys, among other locations, will now be required to comply with the menu requirements.

Do these menu laws even have an influence on nutrition and health? There is no clear, scientific indication that they do. In fact, when New York City imposed a law requiring food establishments to post nutrition information for consumers to see, a study from New York University and Yale University discovered that people actually consumed more calories, not less, after the labeling requirement was imposed.

Source: Daren Bakst, "FDA\'s Final Menu Labeling Rule: Going Way Beyond What\'s Required Under Obamacare," Daily Signal, November 25, 2014. 

 

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