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"Hand-Me-Down" Menu Regulations Just Don't Fit Convenience Stores | Commentary

FDA’s own Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis could not quantify any benefits to the menu labeling regulations. That’s because some 95 percent of food items sold in grocery and convenience stores already display nutrition information. So $1 billion in costs and 14 million hours of time to comply — with no showing of benefit. Somehow that doesn’t seem like what Congress had in mind.

The good news is that Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., have joined with more than 80 of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle to offer convenience stores, grocery stores and delivery operations a custom fit — with the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013. The Senate is also considering companion legislation (SB 1756).

The bill is exactly what its name says: a common-sense approach that lets delivery establishments provide calorie counts with online orders, offer flexibility in labeling items that are variable or intended for multiple customers, allow for inadvertent product variations, and most importantly, limits the labeling rules to real restaurants.

The FDA got the size and style all wrong for thousands of small businesses when it tried to fit them with the same heavy-duty menu labeling regulations as big fast-food chains. When it comes to small businesses that just want to offer the convenience of a few prepared food items, let’s hope Congress discovers the common sense to design a solution that really fits.

Brad Call is the chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and executive vice president of Maverick Inc.

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