November 4, 2015 – ARLINGTON, VA – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today expressed strong support of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee mark-up to adopt legislation introduced and modified by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) that addresses many outstanding challenges with implementing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s chain restaurant menu labeling rule at grocery stores.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin issued the following statement in support of today’s House Subcommittee markup, saying, “I appreciate the leadership of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and others working together to take this critical first step in moving forward legislation that builds a degree of flexibility into FDA’s application to grocery stores and other settings of regulations developed and designed for chain-restaurant-style menu labeling. The irony of the law and the 395 page chain restaurant menu labeling regulation is that in the supermarket context, the issue isn't about menu labeling. To the contrary, for grocery settings, what we're really talking about are the challenges associated with applying these menu nutrition labeling rules to items that don't even appear on a menu or menu board.”
Specifically, the Subcommittee’s amended legislation would maintain, but modify, FDA’s menu labeling regulations by:
- *Clarifying that the menu labeling law is intended for “standard menu items,” defined as those items prepared with uniformity and routinely included on a menu or menu board at 20 or more locations; not food items that are sold at one or two stores;
- *Allowing for supermarkets to use a menu or menu board in a prepared foods area or next to a salad bar rather than individually labeling each item;
- *Allowing an establishment to take corrective actions within 90 days prior to federal, state or municipal enforcement and protecting against frivolous class-action suits; and
- *Providing flexibility within “reasonable basis” standards, in-store certifications, remote-ordering, multi-serving and variable items.
Importantly, and contrary to descriptions from some detractors, the McMorris Rodgers Substitute Amendment to H.R. 2017 does not include a provision to exclude retailers from the menu labeling regulations. It merely allows some practicality for providing nutritional information to customers based on the different ways that foods are prepared and sold across various venues and formats.
FMI will continue to engage Congress, FDA and stakeholders willing to address as many of these problems as possible before enforcement of the menu labeling regulation begins.