Supermarkets and Pizza Chains Get Agency to Back Away from a Nutrition Reporting Rule
Another agency under Trump has put profits before consumer health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended by a year compliance of a rule that would require food retailers to provide nutritional information on menus.
Originally conceived as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Establishments Rule became part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 signed by President Barack Obama. The deadline for compliance was set at May 5, 2017. But the FDA caved to lobbyists for supermarkets and big pizza chains—includidng Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Walmart and Kroger Co.—and extended the compliance date for the rule with the option to further review it.
The rule requires calorie counts of standard food items to be placed on menus and additional nutritional information be available in writing for consumers who ask for it. The rule affects chain restaurants with more than 20 locations, supermarkets, convenience stores and other food sellers.
It had been applauded by public health advocacy groups for its transparency, but derided by food retailers who complained it was too difficult, unruly and costly to implement. The last-minute reprieve by the FDA is seen as a victory by opponents of the rule who petitioned Trump to delay it and instead push a new law, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017, which would dilute and remove some of the regulations. That bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), H.R. 772, and in the Senate by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), S. 261, in early February.
It’s been a tough week for Americans concerned about healthy eating. A few days ago, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who has held that position all of one week, announced plans to roll back the healthy lunch program championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 set nutrition standards for school lunches across the nation.
“This isn’t about flexibility; it’s about making kids less healthy,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in a Los Angeles Times article. “Just because President Trump thinks fast food is a balanced meal doesn’t mean we should lower our standards for our kids.”