Menu mandates: Federal regs gone mad

H.R. 6174 is not intended to eliminate restaurant establishments’ responsibility to be transparent with their customers; it just takes a common sense approach to the calorie issue. The bill grants restaurants the ability to provide information in a way that makes sense for their customers.

For example, the legislation would allow pizza restaurants to give calorie information by the slice rather than for the whole pie and to list calories for standard and popular pizza builds, instead of every possible combination. Do we really need a federal disclosure mandate for a banana and anchovy pizza?

In cases where businesses operate via delivery, this bill gives franchise owners the option to disclose nutritional information online or by other effective means. It ensures that establishments that already provide nutrition information on the vast majority of foods sold, like grocery and convenience stores, are not unnecessarily double-regulated under this menu-labeling regime.

Lastly, the bill provides important protections for small business owners against frivolous class-action lawsuits by recognizing that restaurant food is handmade, varies based on available ingredients and may not conform to exact specs like food that is made in a factory.

In the midst of fiscal cliffs, regulatory avalanches, and a health care Armageddon, most Americans would agree we should be focusing on topics of greater import than restaurant menus. It is rare that we find true bipartisan issues, but this is one, and one that can be solved through passage of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act.

U.S. Representative John R. Carter, a Republican, represents Texas’ Thirty-First Congressional District.