- According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to stay its calorie labeling law and reconsider the rule. The law is set to go into effect May 5.
- The associations, CSPI notes, see an opportunity to revise or quash the bill under the Trump administration, which has taken an anti-regulatory stance to date.
- Many restaurants, supermarkets and other retailers have already begun posting calorie counts inside their locations.
Since the menu labeling law passed as part of the U.S. health care overhaul in 2010, grocers and convenience stores have bitterly fought its implementation. Their reasoning: The law, which requires companies with 20 or more stores to prominently post calorie information, was intended for the restaurant industry. They say it unfairly ensnared additional retailers who will incur unnecessary costs in implementing the new rules.
It’s true that paying for testing, labeling and other measures will be costly for grocers. And it’s true that, while studies show consumers want calorie information posted in stores and restaurants, research also shows that it’s typically only affluent shoppers who want to see this information.
But it’s interesting to see grocers and convenience stores, which have made significant strides towards offering restaurant-quality food (and in some cases do operate full-service restaurants), claim they shouldn’t share the same regulatory burden as restaurants. NGA and the Food Marketing Institute have said that grocers offer a wider array of prepared foods than restaurants do, and thus will incur a greater cost burden in posting calorie counts.
The rise of the grocerant, it seems, comes with unique risks as well as rewards. Earlier this year, FMI and NGA pushed the FDA for concessions on the menu labeling law, including allowing retailers to post calorie counts on menu boards rather than individual items, and to minimize the risk of punishment against stores for human error.
With the labeling law set to take effect in less than a month, retailers are coming down to the wire with this latest stay request. And yet, the previous deadline extensions, along with the anti-regulatory stance taken by the Trump administration, mean their wish might just be granted.