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White House Kicks Calorie Count Labels To Next Year

The FDA has put off a rule requiring calorie counts on menus at big food chains until May next year.

A Burger King sign displays calorie counts

Photo: King Huang (flickr)

A federal rule to make chain restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores post calorie counts on menus was slated to go into effect on Friday, May 5. New York City and the state of California were among the first jurisdictions to pass their own calorie label requirements.

In a resounding sad trombone for health advocates, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced this week that a much-anticipated federal rule to require calorie counts on menus would not go into effect until May 7, 2018.

The menu-label provision was part of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Suspending implementation of calorie labeling comes as House Republicans hammer out a plan to repeal key provisions of the ACA.

Public health organizations have pushed for calorie counts on menus to guide consumers toward lower calorie options.

“Calories on menus have proven both useful and popular with consumers,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement. “Yet the Trump Administration has signaled that it wants to subject menu labeling to even more years of delay.” She added that the administration “is myopically putting Big Food’s interests over the interests of American consumers.”

Bad For Biz?

Trade groups and other opponents argue that the rule is not flexible enough and unfairly burdens the food industry. The rule affects restaurant chains.

As reported by the Washington Post, a group of 17 food industry organizations pushed for the delay.

The National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association and the American Bakers Association called for President Trump to delay implementing the rule to make good on promises to slash regulatory constraints on businesses.

However, the The National Restaurant Association, which has been fighting for a consistent nationwide labeling standard to replace patchwork county-by-county label rules, expressed dismay about the 11th-hour suspension.

In a release, Cicely Simpson, the trade group’s executive VP of government affairs & policy said the delay “upends plans that have been in motion for years throughout the food industry.”

Meanwhile, those groups are also calling for a three-year delay in revised “nutrition facts” labels that would display calorie counts in a larger font and include added sugars. Those changes are currently slated to go into effect in 2018 and 2019.

Read More:

  • Industry Is Counting On Trump To Back Off Rules That Tell You What’s In Your Food (Washington Post)
  • Calorie Labeling Rule Delayed By FDA Until Next Year (Chicago Tribune)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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