Alexander seeks to stall FDA menu-labeling requirements

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, the top lawmakers on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, are leading a bipartisan effort to persuade the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to delay the menu-labeling requirements for a year, reports Michael Collins.

More clarity is needed on what types of foods are covered under the new requirements, and businesses need more time to budget and plan for the changes, the senators wrote in a recent letter to the FDA. The letter was signed by 30 other senators of both parties.

“Thirty-two senators of both political parties are saying to the FDA: Slow down a bit and provide more clarity so that thousands of restaurants and businesses that serve food have time to implement this rule and provide nutritional information in the least burdensome way possible,” said Alexander, a Maryville Republican and the committee’s chairman.

“Consumers want useful menu information,” Alexander said, “but the government needs to allow these establishments to respond to that need in a sensible, reasonable way.”

The menu labeling requirements, set to take effect Dec. 1, are a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — which gave the FDA the authority to require nutrition labeling of standard menu items at chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments.