by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Small business groups, pizza chains, and grocery associations are worried that the Trump administration is moving ahead with an ambiguous Obamacare rule that mandated calorie counts on menus.
The Food and Drug Administration delayed the compliance date of the regulation earlier this year until May 2018, giving groups hope that controversial parts of the rule, such as a 171-word definition of a menu that includes food advertisements and criminal penalties for “misbranding” food with the wrong calorie counts, would be clarified.
However, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said last month that the administration would not reopen the rule for changes. Instead, the FDA will issue nonbinding guidance to companies to address “legitimate concerns about the regulation as it was drafted.”
“It’s going through clearance right now, we are going to issue the guidance at some point … in the fall and that will keep us on schedule to implement that on time in May,” Gottlieb said.
Previous guidance did not address core concerns with the rule and made matters worse. The final guidance under the Obama administration expanded the definition of menu to 171 words. It included anything “from which a customer makes an order selection,” which would apply to advertisements and coupons.
Groups such as the American Pizza Community, a coalition of pizza chains representing Domino’s, Papa John’s, and others, and the Food Marketing Institute, which represents food retailers, have voiced concerns that the FDA has not adequately addressed thousands of comments submitted to the government on how to fix the rule.