- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Obamacare’s newest mandates are due for rollout — a requirement for restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and gas stations to list the calorie counts of many foods and drinks they sell, to be overseen by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is due to announce the labeling mandates Tuesday, The Hill reported. Vending machines, too, will have to abide.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said during a conference call with reporters. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

The rules were proposed three years ago but are just being finalized now.

Many in the industry say the mandates are burdensome and unfairly imposed. For instance, grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores will have to list the calorie counts for certain prepared foods that are served hot or ready-to-go — such as turkey sandwiches. But they’re not required listings for sliced deli meats and cheeses sold in larger portions over the counter, or for cakes sold in grocery stores’ bakeries, The Hill reported.

“Anything that is made with fresh items from the grocery store, whether it’s a chicken sandwich or a salad, those are going to become so costly that grocery stores won’t be able to offer them anymore,” said Rob Rosado, director of government relations at the Food Marketing Institute, adding that the mandates will cost the grocery industry $1 billion in compliance costs for the first year, The Hill reported.

And convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, which will now have to post calorie counts for grilled hot dogs, slushies and “Slurpies” and other frozen drinks, say they’ll receive backlash from the mandates, too.

“Convenience stores shouldn’t be sucked into this law that was intended for restaurants, because they cannot comply with it,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations at the national Association of Convenience Stores, The Hill reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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