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Senate bill would revise menu labeling for supermarkets

Senate bill would revise menu labeling for supermarkets

A bill introduced in the Senate Thursday calls for changes to menu labeling rules to give supermarkets more flexibility.

According to FMI, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Angus King, I-Maine, would:

  • Define “standard menu items” that require labeling as those prepared routinely at 20 or more locations.
  • Allow retailers to use menu boards instead of individually labeling each item.
  • Allow a store to take corrective actions within 90 days prior to enforcement and protect again class-action lawsuits.
  • Provide flexibility within “reasonable basis” standards, in-store certifications, remote-ordering, multi-serving and variable items.

In a statement, FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin praised the bill:

“This legislation is not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the inclusion of nutrition information on menus. If FDA wants ‘menu labeling’ at grocery stores, then let’s at least build some flexibility so it is worthwhile for consumers and workable in store environments. We have made every attempt to work with FDA throughout the past year, as we clearly need modifications to make this regulatory scheme work in a supermarket. With these legislative modifications, our food retailer and wholesaler members can more effectively integrate menu labeling into their current operations.”

Similarly, NGA president and CEO Peter Larkin called on Congress to move forward with the bill.

“Unfortunately, the FDA's regulations and recent guidance continue to present challenges for independent supermarket operators covered under the law. Unlike chain restaurants, supermarkets do not have standardized menus and as such, a law which was originally intended for chain restaurants creates significant operational challenges for supermarkets. This bipartisan legislation will help make it easier for supermarkets to comply with the law while continuing to provide consumers with highest-quality food products and services. Additionally, this legislation will protect front line employees and stores from criminal penalties for simple, human error and shield businesses from frivolous lawsuits.”

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in April.

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