Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican-sponsored bill (H.R. 772) that would, among other things, immunize retail food establishments and restaurants from civil liability for inaccurate nutrition labeling on menus.
The bill also allows variations “from actual nutrient content, including but not limited to variations in serving size, inadvertent human error in formulation or preparation of menu items, variations in ingredients, or other reasonable variations.” It is known as the Common Sense Nutrition Act, and has been pending in one form or another since 2015 — one version passed the House in 2016 but never passed the full Congress.
Congress passed menu labeling requirements almost a decade ago, in March 2010, but FDA has not begun to enforce them. It took FDA until 2014 to finalize regulations to implement the law, which regulations were to go into effect in September 2015. Three months later, Congress extended the enforcement date by 2 years, to May 2017. Then FDA changed the enforcement date another year, to May 2018.
A broad coalition of health associations and food policy groups have criticized the bill, arguing that it “weaken[s] a policy that would allow people to make their own, informed choices about how many calories to eat at a time when obesity rates are at a record high.” The group also argues that the bill would undercut the original “congressional intent to provide access to calorie labeling in a broad range of chain food service establishments.”
The Common Sense Nutrition Act now heads to the Senate for consideration.