According to Fox News on Feb. 6, supermarket and convenience store trips are going to cost everyone more in the near future. A provision of the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” mandates that supermarkets and convenience stores put nutrition labels on prepared, unpackaged foods like salad bar components and bakery items.
Supermarket owners are in a tizzy over the new rule and claim that it will cost them $1 billion additional in the first year alone.
Erik Lieberman, regulatory counsel at the Food Marketing Institute, said testing foods for nutritional data will require either expensive software or even more costly off-site laboratory assessments.
Lieberman said if you don’t do it or you get it wrong, you face stiff penalties. “If you get it wrong, it’s a federal crime, and you could face jail time and thousands of dollars’ worth of fines.”
In the text of the proposed regulation, the FDA states: "[The information] should help consumers limit excess calorie intake and understand how the foods that they purchase at these establishments fit within their daily caloric and other nutritional needs."
Those are the basic arguments of the two sides. However, there is another side to this. President Obama signed an executive order in 2010 saying, “Agencies are supposed to calculate a cost-benefit analysis for each new regulation and attempt to use the least burdensome regulatory methods possible.” Critics say the FDA did not comply.
According to Lieberman, “They are required to do it, and they didn’t. They simply said, ‘We can’t quantify a benefit from this rule,’ and that’s because they really can’t.”
The FDA says they have received hundreds of public comments and will take them into consideration when finalizing the regulation, which is due to be released later this spring with “a final economic analysis.”
Nutrition labels are a good idea, not only for healthy living but for people who may have medical problems with some foods. However, if this regulation goes through as it stands now, the cost will be passed directly through to the consumer's wallet once again.