House Lawmakers Approve Menu Labeling Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The push to enact common sense menu labeling rules moves to the U.S. Senate after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the measure today.

By a bipartisan vote of 266-144, the House approved H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Henry Armour, NACS president and CEO, called the passage "another giant step forward in ensuring consumer choice and making it possible for convenience stores and others to comply."

The measure was introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) to clarify and simplify costly and complex menu-labeling regulations for foodservice establishments promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

NACS has been urging its members to let their representatives know how important the passage of H.R. 2017 was to the convenience channel. The outreach tresulted in hundreds of letters sent to Capitol Hill, the association said.

"The House of Representatives has spoken: We need a common-sense approach to menu labeling that ensures more nutritional information and choice for consumers, while simplifying compliance for businesses of all sizes seeking to meet consumer needs," Armour said.  

"We deeply appreciate the hard work and patience of the sponsors of H.R. 2017 in systematically advancing this bill, and hope the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that healthy and convenient food choices are available to meet rising customer demand without overly burdening small businesses," he added.

According to NACS, foodservice sales continue to be a rising portion of convenience stores' business, accounting for nearly 19 percent of total in-store revenues at $42 billion in sales. 

The National Grocers Association (NGA) also applauded the passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015.

"Independent supermarket operators are on the forefront of meeting consumer demands with a variety of innovative approaches, often tailoring their offerings to reflect the communities they serve. H.R. 2017 contains important regulatory fixes and provides flexibility for supermarkets to continue serving their consumers with local and unique food choices while ensuring consumers receive clear nutritional information," said NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. "NGA thanks [Reps. Rodgers and Sanchez] for their work on this bill and look forward to working with Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Angus King (I-Maine) and their colleagues in the Senate to advance this common sense legislation." 

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) also pushed lawmakers to approve the bill. More than 200 businesses/organizations representing thousands of supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores and pizzerias signed a letter supporting the new menu labeling regulations.

"The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 is not about being 'for' or 'against' the inclusion of nutrition information on menus. Instead, the bill injects some common sense into the rule by avoiding a one-size fits all system and allowing supermarkets to provide this important information to their customers in ways that are most accessible and useful to the customers for whom it is intended," said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin.

According to Sarasin, the bill does not exempt supermarkets or any other retailers from the nutrition information requirement. Instead, it offers practical suggestions for menu labeling regulations in a grocery store setting along with flexible disclosure options. 

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