House Passes H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer announced today the U.S. of Representatives passed H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires nutrition information, including the number of calories in menu options, to be provided to customers at restaurants or retail food establishment that have 20 or more locations. This bill clarifies the information retail food chain establishments must disclose about nutrition to consumers to prevent overly burdensome regulations for establishments, such as convenience stores, supermarkets, grocery stores and pizza restaurants, and to provide flexibility in how restaurants display calorie information.
Specifically, the bill allows retail food establishments where the majority of orders are placed by customers who are off-premises at the time such order is placed, such as pizza restaurants, to disclose nutritional information on a menu available on the Internet. The bill also eliminates criminal penalties and allows restaurants and retailers to take corrective action. In addition it preempts civil litigation for violations of the federal menu labeling law and any state laws that may exist. The bill accommodates for inadvertent variations which occur during the food preparation process.
“This bill corrects another unintended consequence of Obamacare,” said Cramer. “These menu regulations impose an unrealistic and burdensome requirement on many small town convenience stores and restaurants. H.R. 2017 provides the regulatory flexibility for small businesses while ensuring the consumer has access to the information they need.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the final rule implementing this rule on Dec. 1, 2014. The rulemaking process was described by former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as “thorny,” due to the more than one thousand comments received. One of the largest issues with the poorly constructed regulations was the challenge in determining caloric information for customizable meals such as pizzas and burritos.
H.R. 2017 would provide flexibility by allowing covered restaurants and retail food establishments to determine how calorie information would be disclosed. This would include the serving size of menu items. In addition, it would allow a restaurant to display the number of calories contained in the whole item or the number of servings with the calories per serving. Restaurants where the majority of orders are placed by customers who are off-premises would be allowed to provide nutritional information on a remote-access menu, such as an online menu. This bill would define “reasonable basis” with respect to nutrition disclosure to account for variances in serving size, inadvertent human error in the preparation of means, and variations in ingredients.
The secretary would be required to establish regulation standards for determining and disclosing the nutrient content for standard menu items that come in different flavors, varieties or combinations, but which are listed as a single menu item. This could include ice cream, pizza, donuts or children’s combination meals. The regulation must allow restaurants to determine and disclose information through the use of ranges, averages, individual labeling of flavors or components, or labeling of one preset standard build. Any restaurant that is in violation would have 90 days after receiving notification to correct the violation. This bill would prohibit states and localities from petitioning the FDA to require menu labeling that is different from the federal requirements.