Dems Join GOPers in Opposing Expansion of Obamacare’s Food Labeling Mandate

Penny Starr | March 25, 2013 | 11:05am EDT
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Lawmakers and small businesses representatives back a bill that restricts the FDA from regulating food labeling as a part of Obamacare (left to right): Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Hank Armour, president of the National Association of Convenience Stores, Lorelei Mottese, director of government relations for Wakefern Food Corp., Mary Lynne Carraway, franchise owner of a Domino's Pizza, Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) ( Starr)

( – In a bipartisan bill opposing an expansion of food labeling requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 10 Republicans and four Democrats have signed onto legislation to restrict the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to include regulation of convenient stores and take-out food outlets.

The bill’s sponsors cited Section 4205 of the healthcare law, or Obamacare, that is entitled “Nutritional Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants.” The regulation requires restaurants with more than 20 establishments to provide nutritional information about its offerings.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), called the requirements “unworkable” for places like pizza outlets that take custom orders. She also said it would add a substantial financial burden to small businesses that are already experiencing increased cost, such as tax increases, because of Obamacare.

“The administration’s own Office of Management and Budget has said that this regulation is going to be the third largest regulatory burden of any law,” McMorris Rodgers said at a Thursday press conference at the Capitol to announce the bill’s introduction.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), one of the co-sponsors of the bill, said that some government regulations to ensure food safety and other protections for the public are good, but some are “too much of a burden.”

“In those particular cases, I think it’s important to be in a very bipartisan manner to reach across the aisle to work together to ensure that those types of regulations, those types of statutes, are eliminated,” Sanchez said.

Several small business owners joined the press conference to express their support for the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013.

The bill, which was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on March 19, would “amend section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve and clarify certain disclosure requirements for restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machines.”

Dozens of food retailers and advocacy organizations from around the country signed letters dated March 21 to McMorris Rodgers and Sanchez expressing their support for the bill, including the National Grocers Association, Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., Domino’s Pizza and the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The letter said the bill would “return restaurant labeling education and nutrition standards to what was originally intended.”

The bill is opposed by a small number of food retailers and groups, including the National Restaurant Association, Burger King and Cracker Barrel.

Those groups also sent a March 21 letter to Congress members saying the bill would “create an unlevel playing field for how nutrition information on restaurant food is treated and circumvent decisions that are carefully being considered by the Food Drug Administration (FDA) through rulemaking.”

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