12.20.2012 0

FDA calorie counters gone wild

By Rebekah Rast — Domino’s Pizza restaurants might soon be investing in some new wallpaper.

Remember the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) law within Obamacare requiring all food chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on menus and menu boards?  The FDA now wants to extend this law to grocers, convenience stores and even customizable food chains like Domino’s.

Why new wallpaper? How else would a small Domino’s chain eatery post calorie information for its 34 million different pizza and other menu combinations?

If this sounds like a waste of time, you’re right.  White House Office of Management and Budget has already estimated that the paperwork burden on supermarkets and grocery stores would require 15 million man-hours to comply with these new FDA rules.

In an interview with Human Events, Erik R. Lieberman, a regulations attorney with the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute, said on top of the man-hours required, these new labeling laws will cost the supermarkets and grocery stores $1 billion to implement their compliance programs with hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to maintain compliance.

This additional man-power and cost might be enough to force some of these food chains and grocers to close their doors for good.  Amidst a national financial and employment crisis, the heavy hand of government again propels the situation from bad to worse.

Some in Congress have introduced The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2012.  Bill sponsor John Carter (R-Texas) says this legislation would still require that these customizable restaurants or grocers be transparent with their customers, but would allow them to do it on their terms.

Rep. Carter wrote in a column in the Daily Caller, “For example, the legislation would allow pizza restaurants to give calorie information by the slice rather than for the whole pie and to list calories for standard and popular pizza builds, instead of every possible combination. Do we really need a federal disclosure mandate for a banana and anchovy pizza?”

These new FDA rules, which could be implemented before Congress reconvenes next year, would also gravely affect fresh food sections of grocery stores.  Fresh-made soups change daily and even if the soup stays the same, the ingredients might slightly differ from one day to the next depending on the availability of certain fresh foods.  Or how would a grocer implement these new rules when it comes to a self-serve salad bar?

“These ridiculous rules are a huge overstep of government and would only benefit lawyers, while devastating fresh-food grocers and even popular pizza chains,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  “One extra salad crouton would upset the calorie count and could equal a hefty fine for the local grocer.”

Then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was right when she said in 2010, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” referring to Obamacare.  Now America’s favorite pizza chains and grocers face burdening costs to comply with a strenuous overreach of government.

Next time you customize your pizza order, just think of the 34 million combinations available to you.  And for the less than 10 percent of people who walk into their pizza chain to make the order, you might soon catch a glimpse of each combination’s calorie count.

If this new cost and threat of fines doesn’t cause your local chain to shut its doors, maybe the long, tedious list of available combinations will inspire you to try something new.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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