International news: US menu-labeling legislation to offer flexibility for convenience stores

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) hailed legislation introduced in the US Senate, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, as a thoughtful approach to providing the necessary flexibility and understanding of convenience store foodservice operations.

A provision included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, calls for a national, uniform nutrition-disclosure standard for foodservice establishments. According to NACS, regulations implementing this provision create rigid requirements that pose an unreasonable burden on convenience stores.

Bipartisan legislation introduced last month codifies a less burdensome approach to menu labeling. For those convenience stores that would be covered by federal menu-labeling requirements, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act provides more flexibility with compliance. The legislation also removes the potential for criminal penalties if a store or restaurant gives some customers larger servings than they expected. The Senate bill maintains, but modifies, the US Food and Dug Administration’s menu-labeling regulations to provide nutritional information to customers in a more practical format, and to protect small businesses from overly burdensome costs and penalties.

“Convenience stores and their foodservice offerings vary greatly – even those that are part of the same chain – based largely on their location and customer base,” NACS Senior Vice-President of Government Relations Lyle Beckwith said.

“[This legislation] provides retailers with the flexibility they need to communicate calorie nutrition information, and provides needed protections from unnecessary potential felony penalties on retail employees. This legislation would also allow FDA to meet the objectives of the menu-labeling law without unnecessarily burdening retailers and confusing customers.”

The US convenience store industry, with more than 152,700 stores across the country, posted US$696.1 billion ($974 billion) in total sales in 2014, of which US$482.6 billion ($676 billion) were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

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