Industry Backs Bill Blocking New Regs on Grocers

The National Grocers Association (NGA) has expressed its support for today’s introduction of the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2012, bipartisan legislation that will keep the FDA from exceeding its authority under section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as regards the nutrition labeling of standard menu items at chain restaurants.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Joe Barton (R-Texas), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Billy Long (R-Mo.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) aims to protect grocery stores from certain regulatory burdens and costs.

“NGA commends Rep. Carter for his leadership to ensure that the FDA does not exceed its authority under the statute by expanding this provision beyond chain restaurants,” explained NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin. “This legislation will ensure independent retail grocers are not subjected to millions of dollars in new and unnecessary expenses and administrative burdens because of regulatory overreach. NGA's members are focused on growing their businesses and creating jobs at a time when our country desperately needs both. This bill will ensure that the FDA adheres to Congress’ original intent, which did not include grocery stores.”

The industry group maintain that grocery stores aren’t comparable to chain restaurants, where menus and ingredients are uniform across the chain. By contrast, grocery stores’ ingredients and menus often change daily, according to the availability of fresh ingredients and products in their stores, so subjecting grocery stores to a law meant for chain restaurants doesn’t make sense, according to NGA.

NGA said it would continue to seek more bipartisan co-sponsors for the legislation and urge the House to quickly pass the bill.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) also heartily endorsed the legislation. "The financial burdens of extending restaurant menu labeling to supermarkets in such a prescriptive manner are extraordinary," noted Jennifer Hatcher, SVP of government and political affairs at Arlington-based FMI. "We appreciate this bipartisan legislative effort that recognizes supermarkets are not restaurants, acknowledging the 95 percent of supermarket offerings that are labeled with full nutrition facts [under the Nutrtion Labeling and Education Act and other food labeling laws], and we urge FDA to acknowledge the same in their final rule."

Added Dya Campos, director of public affairs at San Antonio-based H-E-B: "Food retailers have a deep commitment to the health of their customers, but with FDA's proposed interpretation, we'd be forced to be formulaic with our recipes, which is not what our customers typcially expect from among our fresh, in-store-made options.

"There's enough economic strain on our customers today," she continued, "and one more regulation not originally intended to apply to grocery stores could significantly impact our customers and small grocery-oriented businesses."

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds