There's No Common Sense in the Menu Labeling Law


‘Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act’ Would Have Provided Flexible Approach to Nutrition Disclosure for Consumers


The American Pizza Community (APC) expressed disappointment that Congress’ Omnibus Spending bill did not include a common-sense menu labeling law, and will cost small businesses $1 billion and 14.5 million hours to comply with the FDA’s menu labeling requirements in the first year alone.


Current FDA rules treat all food establishments as one type of restaurant with a static or fixed menu requiring food stores with 20 or more locations including grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters – and pizza stores – to have menu boards with nutritional information on display in stores by May 7, 2018 or face stiff violations for non-compliance. 


The APC points out that an inflexible requirement to label in-store menu boards with broad calorie ranges for entire pizzas will not enhance consumer education but would come at a great expense to owners. 


“Regrettably, FDA’s one-size-fits-all approach demonstrates a stunning lack of understanding about consumer preferences and the pizza category,” said Tim McIntyre, chair of the APC.  “Pizza’s unique ordering variations create countless combinations making it difficult to accurately deliver information on printed menu boards and costly to maintain. Ninety percent of our customers place orders online or over the phone,” he continued. 


The APC has worked for years to provide the FDA with reasonable, productive approaches to implement menu labeling to account for its unique product and business model.  Most notably was legislation that created a federal standard to allow food establishments flexibility in how they implemented menu labeling – not an exemption – whereby online compliance for establishments that rely on remote ordering and delivery would be permitted and provide a reasonable period for corrective actions.  “We simply wanted flexibility in providing nutritional information to customers in a meaningful way,” said McIntyre.


The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (CSNDA) was introduced in the House and Senate in the past two congressional sessions, where it received bipartisan support twice passing out of the House only to get stalled in the Senate.  Last month H.R. 772 passed in the House with a vote of 266-157.  Most recently, a scaled-down version of the bill was thought to be included in the Omnibus Spending Bill but ultimately did not make the list of riders in the $1.3 trillion package.


“We continue to support the intent behind menu-labeling laws, but FDA’s regulations do not make sense, will not give customers the information they need, and will be costly for small businesses,” said McIntyre said.