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  • Tales of the Red Tape #34: FDA Invades Piggly Wiggly

    Today we examine a proposed regulation that would require some 47,000 grocery stores nationwide to post calorie and other nutrition information each day for the ever-changing array of foods prepared on site, such as the salads, dips, and tropical whips so common to the deli case.

    Details about the rule have been published in the Federal Register (Vol. 76, No. 66) under the entry titled “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants.”

    It would be entirely reasonable to wonder how and why the proposed grocery store mandate has been slipped into a regulation targeting chain restaurants. Indeed, the statute giving rise to the regulation—Obamacare—makes no mention of Kroger, Safeway, or their ilk. Well, grocery store operators are wondering that, too, given the millions of man-hours and dollars it will cost them if the rule is finalized—costs that will ultimately be borne by consumers.

    Alas, neither regulatory restraint nor rationality is a common characteristic of the bureaucrat skill set. In this case, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is defying congressional intent with unapologetic audacity. Just like President Obama, by golly!

    In fact, the statutory text specifies labeling standards for “restaurant or similar retail food establishment.” In order to rope grocery stores into its regulatory grasp, the agency has redefined restaurant to be “where the sale of food is the primary business activity of that establishment.” According to the FDA, this definition “fits best with the natural meaning of the language and its proper scope.”


    Grocers are rightfully concerned about the looming regulatory burden. Unlike chain restaurants, where menus are often set by a central office and remain constant for extended periods, the freshly prepared foods at grocery stores change daily based on the availability and freshness of products. For example, a basic fruit salad may feature very different elements from one day to the next. And each different combination would require a separate nutrient analysis—at an average cost of about $300 each.

    Most Americans might assume—naively, it turns out—that the government has at least some idea about the utility of the proposed rule. In fact, the FDA acknowledges that “it has not estimated the actual benefits associated with the proposed requirements.” According to the regulatory proposal, “FDA is unaware of any comprehensive data allowing accurate predictions of the effect of the proposed requirements on consumer choice and establishment menus.”

    What we have, then, is a regulation that will, at the very least, reduce the availability of fresh foods at grocery stores—despite the Obama Administration’s relentless badgering of us to eat more fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods. More likely, the price of these fresh offerings will weigh heavier on household grocery bills at a time when food prices are already running higher than average.

    Consumers are already living with a rash of food prohibitions and unparalleled nannyism. The FDA should not be allowed to extend this interference even more.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #34: FDA Invades Piggly Wiggly

    1. Bobbie says:

      When the government is fully aware of the infringements they cause needlessly with increase costs that apply on the economy, how is it beneficial the government go out of their way to create more costs? EVER!
      Let people do for themselves. Constant exercise of the mind is very beneficial until the unconstitutionalities of government interferes!

    2. Another example of the gov making themselves at home in my life!!!!

    3. Gregg Weber says:

      There are unintended and intended consequences of this action.
      If it was a matter of unintended consequences then one could be concerned about someone's reasoning ability.
      If it was a matter of intended consequences then one could be concerned about someone's agenda and what is who or what is expendable or just colladeral damage.

    4. Frank says:

      This is just another display of the "transparency" that the current administration said it would show the public when it received its mandate via the election process. Obviously "transparency" is entirely different for the Obama administration than reality. The real glaring issue here is that it is the democratic controlled congress that has the time to pass such ridiculous laws, while they insist on being inactive on the real issues that need to be addressed

    5. Donald Koller says:

      I wonder if I grow my own tomatoes and veggies if they will come with a tag to tell me what I eat? I then wonder if i will care?

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