The House passed a bill undoing many of former President Barack Obama’s restrictive menu labeling rules Tuesday, giving hope to restaurants that they won’t have to label the calories for every variation of items on their menu.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, proposed by Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California, cleared the House 266-157, with 32 Democrats voting for the measure.
The bill allows restaurants to disclose a range of calories, rather than list the calories for every single option on the menu, which pizza shop owners said would be an insurmountable burden.
“This bill was drafted to address the challenges of an overly prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approach to regulation affecting a very, very diverse industry,” Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said. “We need to make sure the law works for all food establishments.”
The menu rules, required as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that created Obamacare, have been delayed multiple times after rigorous lobbying from restaurant groups.
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Domino’s Pizza was at the forefront of the push to change the rules so that pizza shops and other restaurants wouldn’t have to list exact calories for practically infinite options of a slice of pizza.
“We all know menu labeling is here. It’s something we want to do. We want to provide it to customers,” Chris Reisch, a Domino’s franchisee in Kentucky, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in October.
Store owners worried about the rules’ vague penalties, which could be interpreted to mean that restaurant owners and employees could face criminal charges for not disclosing precise calorie information for every item sold.
“Under FDA’s framework merely adding that extra olive or pepperoni is going to render the calorie content on the menu misleading and the chef then becomes criminal? Come on,” Upton said.
Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois disagreed that the bill was necessary given the “crisis” of obesity in the U.S
“At a time when our country is facing an obesity epidemic, I would say really a crisis, we should not be undermining efforts to educate consumers about the nutritional value of foods, including calories,” Schakowsky said.
The Senate has a companion bill co-sponsored by three Democrats, but it’s unclear when the upper chamber will consider the bill. The menu rules are scheduled to go into effect in May.
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