Menu Labeling Regulations Need Revision | Letter to the Editor

Posted October 30, 2013 at 2:30pm

Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Tom Harkin’s Sept. 16 piece, “Menu Labeling Will Empower Americans to Make Healthy Choices,” inadvertently proves just how menu labeling regulations, currently under review at the Food and Drug Administration, need to be rewritten so they are applied as intended.

Let’s be clear, “the small minority of food industry participants,” including the convenience stores I represent, as well as grocers and many others, are not looking to “evade” any responsibility. In fact, most food sold in convenience stores is already packaged with labels that have far more information than the restaurants will be required to provide. What we are looking for is a flexible regulation that does not lump all businesses into the same bucket.

The intent of this regulation was to codify the patchwork system of state and local regulations (that did not target convenience stores and supermarkets) geared toward menu labeling in restaurants. However, once this bill was firmly established in the Affordable Care Act, the restaurant industry lobbied Congress and the FDA in order to expand the law to hinder their competition.

Most people are not arguing that menu labeling should disappear altogether. They are calling for greater flexibility so that different business models can effectively communicate with their customers. This is why the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act has had little trouble finding bipartisan support in the House. The bill acknowledges that convenience stores, restaurants, grocers and other food producers work in different ways and should not be lumped together by the law.

Menu labeling done correctly in a bipartisan fashion and with input from affected businesses could have huge benefits for the health of America.

— Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president, National Association of Convenience Stores