Opinion: Menu labeling rules now law of the land – and it’s about time

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The Trump Administration has been all about deregulation.  

Peeling back governmental red-tape.  Trimming fat from bloated governmental agencies.  Fall out from all that cutting has created partisan divides as wide as the Grand Canyon with little hope of conciliation.  So much hubris.

But inexplicably new national mandatory menu labeling rules have managed to survive the POTUS ideological deregulatory push.    

The rules – which went into effect last week – requires calorie counts at thousands of grocery stores, restaurants, and movie theaters.

A number of national chains including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera are already in lockstep with the Food and Drug Administration requirements.  

It’s been a long rocky eight year journey, full of delays, and heavy lobbying from food industry groups believing the rules overreaching.

The FDA introduced the rule in 2011.

The FDA rule was finalized in 2014 after a huge food fight over what restaurants and businesses had to comply.  

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says, “I do not see these nutrition issues as a right-versus-left issue,”

Non-partisan.  Uh huh …

Well that’s fine and good, but the truth is that restaurants, movie theatersand grocery stores at the end of the day had little choice but to go along, drowning under the weight of a patchwork of state and local nutritional labeling regulations and laws.

Maybe the new rules can put a dent in our nation’s obesity epidemic.  

Attention now turns to the GOP controlled Congress to see if lawmakers  will torpedo the new menu labeling rules.

In February the House passed the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017  , which would gut the FDA rule.

A similar bill was introduced last September by U. S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).  The bill is languishing in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Here’s hoping the bill dies there.  

Yes, there is still quite a bit of angst over the nitty-gritty details on how to be in compliance.  

And yes, it might be a bit of an inconvenience for some businesses (think pizza chains).  

The  good offered in menu calorie transparency is not a federal overreach, but a welcome information to make healthy food choices.

About Dave Dickey

Dave Dickey

Dickey spent nearly 30 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s NPR member station WILL-AM 580 where he won a dozen Associated Press awards for his reporting. For 13 years, he directed Illinois Public Media’s agriculture programming. His weekly column for Big Ag Watch covers agriculture and related issues including politics, government, environment and labor. Email him at dave.dickey@investigatemidwest.org.

This column reflects the writer’s own opinions and not those of Big Ag Watch.

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