House bill offers relief for pizzerias

Washington — Supermarkets and pizza chains would get some relief from government calorie labeling rules under legislation approved by a House committee Wednesday.

Many restaurants and other food retail outlets, such as grocery stores, will have to post the new calorie labels, starting a year from now. The bill by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) would leave in place the Food and Drug Administration rules requiring such labeling but make it easier for some businesses to comply.

The FDA rules will require restaurants and other establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of food “clearly and conspicuously” on their menus, menu boards and displays. That includes prepared foods at grocery and convenience stores and in movie theaters, bakeries, coffee shops, pizza delivery stores and amusement parks.

The bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, 36-12, would narrow labeling requirements for supermarkets, which have complained that the rules are confusing and burdensome, by allowing stores to use a menu or menu board in a prepared-foods area instead of putting labels on individual items.

It also would allow restaurants such as pizza delivery chains that receive most of their orders remotely to post calories online instead of at the retail location. Pizza restaurants would have more flexibility in the way they post calories and restaurants and retailers could determine what constitutes a serving size, in some cases.

The supermarket industry praised the legislation.

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