(Press Release) WASHINGTON, July 24, 2012 — The American Pizza Community (APC), representing hundreds of thousands of small-business owners and employees, announced support for bipartisan legislation in Congress to provide consumers with sensible and flexible solutions for disclosure of nutritional information today. The Common Sense Nutrition Labeling Bill – introduced today by lead Representatives John Carter (R-TX-31) and John Barrow (D-GA-12), along with Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5), Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), Mike Ross (D-AK-4), Reid Ribble (R-WI-8) and others – would allow small-business pizza owners to comply with federal menu labeling requirements using innovative approaches that strengthen consumer education and reduce excessive regulatory costs.
“This legislation provides a common-sense solution that will expand consumer access to nutrition information while ensuring small businesses are not harmed by needlessly expensive, one-size-fits-all regulations,” said Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Papa Murphy’s franchisee Joel Meyer on behalf of APC.
“Consumers have so many options when it comes to ordering – mostly over the phone or internet for pizza delivery restaurants,” said Domino’s Pizza franchisee Jonathan Sharp of Abilene, Texas, on behalf of APC. “So, a federal regulation that requires labeling on expensive in-store menu boards makes little sense. When you’re a small pizza operator trying to get by on tight margins, regulations like this really affect your bottom line, hurting your ability to grow and hire. I hope Congress will pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
Specifically, the bill, among other provisions, would amend existing law as follows:
Establishments that receive the majority of their orders from customers who order off-premise – such as those that offer a delivery service – to provide calorie information on a remote-access menu, instead of an expensive and rarely-seen-on-premise menu board.
The option to provide calorie labeling for pizza by the slice, as opposed to confusing whole-pizza labeling.
Flexibility in providing calorie information for variable food items, such as pizzas, where a multitude of toppings, crusts and sauce create millions of ordering options. These options would include ranges, averages, individual component labeling of ingredients or labeling of standard menu offerings.
A reasonable basis for nutrient content disclosure, so that establishments acting in good faith are not penalized for inadvertent human error and other unavoidable variances.
Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established national menu-labeling standards for restaurants operating 20 or more locations under the same name. In drafting these regulations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has interpreted a menu to be any writing that any consumer could ever use to make an order selection. Such a broad interpretation stretches the intent of Congress, which limited labeling to the “primary writing.” Labeling every writing is expensive, time-consuming, burdensome, and ultimately of negligible value. Additionally, FDA’s proposed method of labeling pizza requires a calorie range, which results in imprecise and confusing labeling. Such ranges are especially ill-conceived for foods that are as customizable as pizza. Similarly, FDA proposes labeling the whole pizza. Pizza is a shared meal. The average consumer eats only 2.1 slices.
With more than 70,000 pizza stores in the United States, the pizza industry is impacted by numerous federal and state regulations that impact the growth of its small-business owners. The current menu labeling requirements were identified by the Office of Management and Budget as the third most onerous legislative provision of 2010. If implemented as currently proposed, the regulations being prepared by FDA could have seriously negative impacts on small-business job creation without, in many cases, improving information available to consumers. The pizza community has a proven record of proactively providing nutrition information in ways that make the most sense for their customers.
“I just want to be in my stores, making pizzas, connecting with my customers and leading my employees. It’s hard enough to be a small-business owner today,” said Dan Hughes of Salem, Ore., franchise store owner for Figaro’s Pizza. “Thank you to Congressman Carter and his colleagues for introducing this common sense legislation that makes it easier for small businesses like us to succeed and hire in a tough economy.”