U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) has introduced legislation (H.R. 1249) that would amend the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act “to improve and clarify certain disclosure requirements for restaurants, similar food retail establishments, and vending machines.” Titled the “Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013,” the bill would classify a restaurant or similar retail food establishment subject to federal menu labeling laws as one “that derives more than 50 percent of its total revenue from the sale of food of the type described” by the FD&C Act.

Touted as a means to lessen the regulatory burden on some retailers, the legislation would, among other things, (i) strike from the FD&C Act language requiring restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines to list “the number of calories contained in the standard menu item, as usually prepared and offered for sale” and instead insert language specifying that these establishments must provide “the number of calories contained in the whole product, or the number of services and number of calories per serving, or the number of calories per the common unit division of the product, such as for a multi-serving item that is typically divided before presentation to the consumer”; (ii) define “reasonable basis” in terms of nutrient disclosure to mean “that the nutrient disclosure is within acceptable allowances for variation in nutrient content”; and (iii) permit restaurants and retail food establishments to determine and disclose nutrient content “using any of the following methods: ranges, averages, individual labeling of flavors or components; or labeling of one preset standard build.”

“This bill will limit the burdens of Obamacare by removing unnecessary FDA [Food and Drug Administration] regulations and improving nutrition disclosure requirements for restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) in support of the measure. “The nutrition labeling provision in the Presidents[sic] healthcare bill was intended to provide a federal standard for informing consumers on nutritional information at restaurants. Instead, the [FDA] has designed a one-size-fits-all regulation that captures some non-restaurant establishments, such as grocery and convenience stores.” See Ellmers Press Release, March 21, 2013.