Green Room

Bipartisan push to stop FDA on ObamaCare menu mandate

posted at 3:37 pm on February 18, 2014 by

It’s about time, too. One of the mandates in the ObamaCare bill was a requirement for food chains of 20 or more locations to post all nutritional data on every menu item. That’s a nightmare for pizzerias and other custom-food outlets, and finally Congress appears ready to act to stop the FDA from implementing the worst of it:

Pizza places and grocery stores in particular have complained about the draft standards, saying they would be all but impossible to maintain. For instance, there are 34 million different combinations of pizza toppings, according to an industry trade group. It’s impractical to require that they list calorie counts for all of the options, they say.

The lawmakers, led by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), are pushing legislation that would limit the scope of the menu rule to businesses where food service is the primary source of revenue, allow delivery restaurants to post their nutritional information online and allow firms to choose between multiple approaches for labeling made-to-order items.

The bill, which also would limit penalties for labeling mistakes, has attracted more than 50 co-sponsors, and there is companion legislation in the Senate.

“Yet, to date there is little evidence to suggest that the FDA has considered these alternatives,” the lawmakers wrote to Hamburg. “Instead, it appears that the FDA has withdrawn from interacting with affected industries and instead proceeded on a path that will unnecessarily burden many small businesses across the country.”

I’ve written a few times about the nonsensical nature of this regulation as written in the ObamaCare statute, including the fact that calorie counts on menus don’t actually change behaviors anyway. Here’s an original video I produced about the potential impact on a local pizza chain, Davanni’s, almost four years ago:

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But, but, but . . . it’s settled law.

No Truce With Kings on February 18, 2014 at 3:46 PM

“Yet, to date there is little evidence to suggest that the FDA has considered these alternatives,” the lawmakers wrote to Hamburg. “Instead, it appears that the FDA has withdrawn from interacting with affected industries and instead proceeded on a path that will unnecessarily burden many small businesses across the country.”

Because these dumb @ss bureaucrats have to justify their existence, regardless of how stupid and burdensome they’ve become.

I’m sure glad that we passed the bill to find out what’s in it.

Hill60 on February 18, 2014 at 4:10 PM

The best way to repeal a bad law is to aggressively enforce it.

-Abraham Lincoln

Too bad the GOP is ready to ride to the rescue and fix Obamacare.

Occams Stubble on February 18, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Yo dawg, the science is settled!

Madcap_Magician on February 18, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Predicted FDA response: No, and please sign this affidavit under penalties of perjury and imprisonment that if you have under 20 restaurants, you didn’t cleverly refrain from opening the 20th one just to get out of the nutrition information mandate. It’s for the children, dontcha know.

cosifantutte on February 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Well, in any event, calorie labeling is already the law in California, although the exceptions may be broader.

Still, I find it useful and I’m not sure how onerous it actually turned out to be.

I’m not saying I’m in favor of the mandate, I’m just saying some of the critiques can be over-wrought.

Nessuno on February 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Well, in any event, calorie labeling is already the law in California, although the exceptions may be broader.

Still, I find it useful and I’m not sure how onerous it actually turned out to be.

I’m not saying I’m in favor of the mandate, I’m just saying some of the critiques can be over-wrought.

Nessuno on February 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

My daughter works for a small mom and pop restaurant – and she’s often sent out to swing by the local market to pick up “what’s fresh” for the evening menu. How could they be expected to remain in compliance, if their menu and ingredients change on a daily basis? I would imagine the California law has made it far more difficult for these smaller restaurants to compete with the larger chains, who have much deeper pockets, and generally purchase their product in bulk.

Hill60 on February 18, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Well, in any event, calorie labeling is already the law in California, although the exceptions may be broader.

Still, I find it useful and I’m not sure how onerous it actually turned out to be.

I’m not saying I’m in favor of the mandate, I’m just saying some of the critiques can be over-wrought.

Nessuno on February 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM

California requires labels for “standard menu items” and specifically exempts “customized orders,” so that would appear to cover the pizza problem. They would only have to post the info for those on menu.

But this overlooks the FACT that nutritional information posted makes no statistical difference in the choices consumers make. That a few do use the info doesn’t justify the increased costs of providing it, which must be passed on to all customers.

Only a idiot needs that stuff anyway. If you want to eat healthy, you probably shouldn’t eat out at all, and if you do eat only salads with low-cal dressings. If you are at McDonald’s or Pizza Slut, ordering their main menu, you obviously don’t give a hoot.

Adjoran on February 18, 2014 at 6:18 PM

The best way to repeal a bad law is to aggressively enforce it.

-Abraham Lincoln

Occams Stubble on February 18, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Agreed. GOP should be demanding all these things be enforced, to their fullest.

lorien1973 on February 18, 2014 at 9:56 PM

I actually will intentionally buy high calorie items when I’m hungry.

Because… I… Am… Hun-gry.

I’ll look at the menu… can’t decide… and I pick the one that has more calories because I assume I’ll be more full after the meal and thus won’t go through the irritation of ordering food, eating it, and then needing to get more. And yes… that happens if your metabolism runs hotter then a sloth.

Karmashock on February 19, 2014 at 6:54 AM

This bipartisan push by congress ignores the reality that this burden of regulation is an important step in the “Cloward-Piven” strategy against small businesses and the economy in general.

The destruction of the middle-class is a necessary step for any communist usurpation.

IronDioPriest on February 19, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Yes, well, aside from all That, the whole ACA is an incredibly evil and highly arrogant attempt to exert control over multitudes of Others, by those politicians (who Should know better) apparently bereft of the ability to control themselves. The psychological dynamics are robust yet tiresome. The phrase “Get a life” comes to mind…

That said, I would suggest — nay, Urge — such like-minded 0nes to break from the political huddle with each other, and instead begin embracing the Constitution and the Ten Commandments for relevant guidance about how to conduct themselves, therefore learn to leave US alone and to our own G_d-given devices that we may carry out the individual and larger, somewhat interconnected purposes, for which we are Designed.

Evil bites; biting back!

KissMyAmericanFlag on February 19, 2014 at 9:13 AM

…LAW?…WHAT LAW?

KOOLAID2 on February 19, 2014 at 10:13 AM

RUB everyone’s nose in it. Don’t help them fix it. Make democrats own it.

bluesdoc70 on February 19, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Let me get this right. So the republicans are going to work with the democrats on modifying this portion of the law instead of abolishing it! Proving once again that the stupid party does not get it. You can’t fix this mandate on businesses. Republicans should be only pushing for elimation of these regulations.

WilsonReagan on February 20, 2014 at 1:52 PM