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Harkin, DeLauro Respond to Proposed Menu Labeling Rules

WASHINGTON – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) released the following statements responding to the proposed rules for calorie labeling on menus in chain restaurants and vending machines announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today.  Harkin and DeLauro sponsored the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act, legislation to enable Americans to make informed choices about their food, and successfully worked to include provisions of their legislation in the Affordable Care Act

“Trying to find the healthy options when dining out can be more difficult than you think – even a salad can be loaded with hidden fat and sodium.  In the same way that nutrition labels on packaged foods allow consumers to see exactly what they’re eating and drinking, these calorie counts will empower Americans to make informed decisions when they eat away from home,” said Harkin.  “While I don’t agree with everything in the proposed rules, I applaud the FDA for moving forward on this important public health initiative, and I encourage stakeholders to review the rules carefully and take advantage of this public comment period to make their voices heard.” 

“I am encouraged that the FDA has issued this proposed rule that will result in the posting of calorie information for foods at chain restaurants, and vending machines across the country.  However, by exempting movie theaters and alcoholic beverages, I am concerned that the scope of the proposed rule does not reflect the intent of the law. I will work to ensure that the final rule is strengthened so that calorie information will be required to be posted in all the food establishments intended under the law,” said DeLauro. “It is critical that Americans are able to easily access information about the foods they consume to enable them to make more healthier food choices.”