FDA: Forcing Calorie Counts on Menus Will Take a While Longer

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The government agency says creating a new menu-labeling law "has gotten extremely thorny." Grocery and convenience stores are the thorns.

The Associated Press reports the Food and Drug Administration is struggling to figure out how to apply new menu labeling requirements.

The healthcare reform that passed in 2010 demands the FDA come up with rules requiring calorie counts on eatery menus and vending machines. They did that within a year, and most restaurant chains are cool with it. Some have already added calorie counts in advance of the required startup.

But some places, including supermarkets and convenience stores, are fighting the proposal and holding it up. Pizza franchises like Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s aren’t happy either.

The original plan was to make all of the above plus bakeries and coffee chains list calorie counts for every item on the menu, with additional nutrition info available on request. Many places where food wasn’t the primary service were exempt, including theaters, bowling alleys, bars, and planes.

Now the protesting groups want exemptions too. Grocery and convenience stores say they have a lot more items to label than restaurants, and not a lot of space. Their lobbyists also claim it could cost a billion dollars to implement the changes, and that they’d have to pass costs on to consumers.

The FDA has to figure out what to do, and will probably face legal challenges regardless. And they know all too well the New York Supreme Court just struck down NYC’s mega-soda ban.

Stacy Johnson

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