New menu labeling legislation introduced on Oct. 29 in the U.S. Senate, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (S. 2217), appears to offer the flexibility and understanding of convenience store foodservice operations the industry has been hoping for.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) praised the proposed legislation.
A provision included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, calls for a national, uniform nutrition-disclosure standard for foodservice establishments. Regulations implementing this provision, finalized by the (FDA) in November 2014, create rigid requirements that pose an unreasonable burden on convenience stores. The FDA’s rules, set to take effect on Dec. 1, 2016, do not recognize how convenience stores, grocery stores, delivery operations and other approaches to foodservice are different than restaurants. Further, the intent of law was designed for big chain restaurants with simple, standardized menus at all locations and Congress’s intent was to ensure those menus provide clear, understandable nutrition information.
The bipartisan legislation introduced Oct. 29 by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME) codifies a less burdensome approach to menu labeling. For those convenience stores that would be covered by federal menu-labeling requirements, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act provides more flexibility with compliance. The legislation also removes the potential for criminal penalties if a store or restaurant gives some customers larger servings than they expected. The Senate bill maintains but modifies U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s menu-labeling regulations to provide nutritional information to customers in a more practical format, and to protect small businesses from overly burdensome costs and penalties.
“Convenience stores and their foodservice offerings vary greatly—even those that are part of the same chain—based largely on their location and customer base. S. 2217 provides retailers with the flexibility they need to communicate calorie nutrition information, and provides needed protections from unnecessary potential felony penalties on retail employees,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations at NACS. “This legislation would also allow FDA to meet the objectives of the menu-labeling law without unnecessarily burdening retailers and confusing customers.”
NACS has been actively engaged with the FDA during the regulatory process, ensuring that the agency understands the convenience store industry’s unique perspective on federal nutrition disclosure obligations.