Thursday, April 1, 2010

The new federal menu mandate

You have likely already heard about the negative financial effects of the new health care legislation on businesses that provide prescription drug benefits to their retirees.  But you may not have heard about the burdensome regulations that it places on the owners of restaurant chains (and they have nothing to do with providing health insurance to their employees).

If you thumb to page 1206 of the Senate health care bill, you will find section 4205 entitled:  NUTRITION LABELING OF STANDARD MENU ITEMS AT CHAIN RESTAURANTS.  This section basically requires restaurant chains that have at least 20 locations to provide governmnent determined nutrition information about every standard menu item on the handout menus, menu boards, and drive-through menu boards.  It also extends to owners of 20 or more vending machines.  I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Ed Morrissey paid a visit to a local restaurateur in the Twin Cities area to find out how the new laws will affect his business:

Yesterday, I spent a little time at a local pizzeria to find out more about the impact of the new federal menu mandate in the real world. Davanni’s has 21 locations throughout the Twin Cities, a smaller, local chain that suddenly must now comply with this federal requirement to publish the caloric content of each of its menu items on all of its printed presentations. However, these restaurants have a problem when they offer their customers a wide range and high number of options — as most pizzerias do. Ken Schelper, a Vice President of Davanni’s, sat down with me yesterday to explain just how costly this new mandate is, and how difficult compliance will be:

In response to customer demand, most restaurants already make nutrition information available to their customers in their restaurants and on their websites.  This is a clear case of taking a sledge hammer to a problem that doesn't exist, and one more instance of big government intrusion into a business they know nothing about.

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