E-Z Mart CEO Sonja Hubbard Makes Menu-Labeling Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — E-Z Mart Stores Inc. CEO Sonja Hubbard urged the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to pass H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, during a June 4 hearing, reported NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Testifying on behalf of NACS, Hubbard stressed the importance of passing the bipartisan legislation quickly due to the current compliance deadline of Dec. 1, 2015. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act would extend the deadline by two years and provide guidance and clarification to retailers, as CSNews Online previously reported.

"The convenience store industry strongly supports ... efforts to provide consumers the nutrition information they want," Hubbard stated during the hearing. "The industry simply wants to be able to provide this information in ways that are practical for our businesses and useful for our customers."

Along with the deadline extension, H.R. 2017 contains provisions to minimize unnecessary compliance burdens without compromising consumers' ability to receive nutrition information, and ensures that regulations are not unreasonably punitive, according to NACS. Hubbard called the bill "sound legislation" and discussed how c-stores sell food in ways that differ from chain restaurants.

"Many chain restaurants sell the same food offerings, prepared in the same way and displayed on the same menu [at] all of their locations," Hubbard said. "That is not true of the convenience store industry. Convenience stores — even those that are part of the same chain — sell different foods based on their location and market demand."

During the hearing, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.), the legislation's primary author, announced plans to remove language from the bill that would effectively exempt many c-stores and grocery stores from the menu labeling requirements. This would address the primary concerns of the bill's opponents in hopes of increasing its support and speeding up its passage.

Other hearing attendees who testified in support of the bill included a representative from Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. and representatives of the supermarket and pizza restaurant industries. A representative of the Center for Science in the Public Interest testified in opposition. 

The full NACS testimony is available here, while a full webcast of the hearing can be viewed here.

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