New Menu Labeling Legislation Draws Industry Praise
WASHINGTON, D.C. — NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, praised the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (S. 2217) legislation introduced Thursday in the U.S. Senate, calling it a thoughtful approach to providing the necessary flexibility and understanding of convenience store foodservice operations.
Regulations finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and set to go into effect in December 2016 require caloric information to be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations to provide consumers with more nutritional information about the foods they eat outside the home.
The rules have been criticized by NACS and other retail industry groups for not recognizing how c-stores, grocery stores, delivery operations and other approaches to foodservice are different than restaurants.
The new bipartisan Senate legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Angus King (I-Maine), codifies a less burdensome approach to menu labeling and provides more flexibility with compliance, NACS said. The bill maintains but modifies the regulations in order 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," stated 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."
Along with NACS, SIGMA: America's Leading Fuel Marketers also applauded introduction of the bill, stating that it would provide the much needed flexibility to accommodate the business practices of fuel marketers nationwide.
"This legislation is critical in that it provides fuel retailers with flexibility to give consumers the health information they want while making regulatory requirements manageable," stated Ryan McNutt, CEO of SIGMA.
Both NACS and SIGMA, as well as a coalition of similar business entities and trade associations, have actively engaged with the FDA during the regulatory process to ensure the agency understands the c-store industry's unique perspective on federal nutrition disclosure obligations.
Companion legislation to S. 2217 was introduced in the House of Representatives in April (H.R. 2017) and currently has 89 co-sponsors.