(Bloomberg) -- The calorie counts appearing on chain restaurants’ menus as of Monday were first proposed as part of the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump administration doesn’t see it as a partisan issue, according to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
“A lot of these debates around nutrition and labeling have unfortunately gotten swept up in a political debate and they’re not political,” Gottlieb said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “This is somehow perceived as an Obama regulation and not a Trump regulation. The reality is the menu-labeling provisions probably would have passed on an overwhelming bipartisan basis had they moved as a standalone piece of legislation.”
The calorie-labeling requirement, which applies to restaurants with 20 or more locations, was delayed several times as the FDA looked for ways to make compliance more flexible. Some of the changes and clarifications included exempting coupon mailings and billboards from the requirements and letting pizza makers use graphical depictions to clearly reflect thousands of possible topping combinations.
“Are there certain aspects of the law that I think we would seek modification to? Yes: There are and we have. But all in all, I think the concept of menu labeling disclosure is something that we fully support,” Gottlieb said. “The idea of having some basic regulation to create a level playing field, uniform disclosure of basic information on labels, is actually a pro-market concept.”
The rule could help Americans -- who eat about a third of their meals away from home -- reduce calorie intake by 30 to 50 calories each time they eat out. “That’s a pretty profound impact from a pretty simple intervention,” Gottlieb said.
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