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Harkin Statement on Menu Labeling Rule Announced by White House

WASHINGTON, DC— Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the final menu labeling rule announced by the White House today.

“I commend FDA for issuing a sensible rule that puts the health of the American people first. Every American family deserves access to clear, evidence-based information about the food and beverages they consume. But previously, though consumers had access to nutrition information on packaged goods, they were in the dark about restaurants foods. This rule closes the restaurant loophole and empowers consumers to make wise decisions about their health whether they dine in a restaurant, a grocery store, or an entertainment venue.” Harkin said. “Prevention and wellness initiatives have been at the heart of the public health efforts I have worked to advance throughout my career.

“I am proud to have worked with the restaurant industry, the public health community, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate to reach agreement on a common sense law that promotes health and is responsive to the needs of the restaurant industry. This rule is consistent with our bipartisan agreement and will help to protect and strengthen access to healthy, nutritious foods for families around the country,” Harkin added. “I applaud the administration for finalizing a critical rule which closely mirrors congressional intent. I urge the White House, FDA, and other federal agencies to continue their work to implement this regulation and advance our shared mission to ensure all Americans have access to the information they need to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families.”

Harkin has been a champion of healthy eating initiatives throughout his career. In addition to authoring the menu labeling provisions in the Affordable Care Act, he also created the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and authored the Food Safety Modernization Act. Last year, he reintroduced the HELP America Act, which among other provisions, calls for improved nutrition labeling and directs the FDA to develop two-year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods.