Section 4205 of Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, established complex national regulations and standards for menu-labeling for restaurants, franchises and some grocery stores operating 20 or more locations. Obamacare is filled with all sorts of other controls on the foods that can be sold, served in school lunches and advertised. It’s all to address a nonexistent crisis — except to those who consider it a national crisis that our food has never been safer or more plentiful and we’re living longer, healthier lives than ever in the history of our country.
Like virtually every federal regulation brought to us under Obamacare, science and evidence are lacking. In fact, the government’s own documents even admit there’s no support for food labeling. But, they’re doing it anyway.
Problems in society are rarely solved by Washington bureaucrats yet they seem to have taken the adage, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ to heart. Accordingly, the government is addressing the nation’s growing obesity epidemic with a regulation: Section 4205, the menu labeling provision attached to ObamaCare meant to “aid consumers in selecting more healthful diets.” As currently written, however, the regulation will likely have job-killing effects and result in little, if any, significant reductions in obesity rates and/or improved health…
For the pizza community, estimates for the cost of signage reach up to $4,700 per year depending on how often products are updated. Despite being part of a big brand name like Domino’s Pizza, the cost will be incurred by the franchise owners, which Liddle says are mom and pop operations. The nearly $5,000 is an added expense against marginal profits, she says, which doesn’t include the uncertainties associated with future costs of food, minimum wage increases and the possibility of more regulations…
And what about the research showing menu labeling helps reduce obesity rates and increase overall health? FMI’s Erik Lieberman writes: “It has been estimated by industry that the costs of extending menu labeling to supermarkets will exceed $1 billion in the first year of compliance alone, and hundreds of million of dollars annually thereafter. Meanwhile, the evidence that menu labeling has any significant impact on public health is scant. Indeed, of the studies FDA cites in the rule, most demonstrate that menu labeling has little to no effect on purchasing habits. Furthermore, no study shows any link to reduction of obesity rates, the purported benefit which FDA used to justify the menu labeling regulation.”
Published in the Federal Register, Unified Agenda 0910-AG57, the U.S. Government said that it anticipates that these food businesses will bear the costs for adding nutritional information to menus and menu boards. The total governmental costs of this rulemaking will be approximately $80 million, with annualized estimates of $33 to $125 million over ten years. “These costs include an initial cost of approximately $320 million with an annually recurring cost of $45 million.”
These rules will knowingly increase the costs of food — especially food the government doesn’t want people to buy — and will cost jobs. So what evidence is the federal government using to justify it new regulations? The Federal Register says:
Because comprehensive national data for the effects of menu labeling do not exist, FDA has not quantified the benefits associated with section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act and this rulemaking.
However, the effects of menu labeling have been tested at local and state levels. New York City became the first state to impose food menu labeling to address obesity in July of 2008 and its regulations were used in health reform legislation. Research conducted by professors at four New York universities, and published in Health Affairs, was the first to evaluate the effectiveness of this policy since its introduction. It found that while people noticed and one-quarter of them said the labels influenced their shopping choices, in actuality, there was no change in calories purchased before and after labeling went into effect. In fact, the average number of calories purchased in restaurants went up 21 calories.