The Common Sense Legislation That Everyone Is Arguing About
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R. 2017, toward a final floor vote. In doing so, they proved that the legislation is anything but common sense.
H.R. 2017 aims to erode current standards for health information that is printed on restaurant menus. Dissenters in the congressional report on the legislation describe the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act as “an overly prescriptive, permanent legislative approach that is unnecessary” that would be “not only unnecessary, but would be counterproductive” and “counter to what the majority of consumers want” using a “misguided approach that would interfere with the FDA’s well-executed implementation of existing law and delay consumer access to critical nutritional information”.
That’s pretty strong criticism for something that is supposed to be common sense. Furthermore, congressional dissenters point out that the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act actually encourages the production of menus that contain information that is purposefully misleading. The bill, they point out, “allows businesses to create deceptive serving sizes. For example, a business could list the calories for a serving size of a portion of a sandwich, when the average consumer may mistakenly assume the calorie count is for the entire sandwich.” So, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act actually interferes with common sense information on menus, creating obfuscation where there should be clarity.
The strong disagreement within the House of Representatives about H.R. 2017 led to a deeply divided vote yesterday about whether even to advance the bill to a full floor vote. 174 of members of Congress registered their opinion that the legislation should not move forward.
H.R. 2017 is not about common sense. It’s about a particular ideological position, promoted by industry lobbyists. 26 different organizations sent lobbyists to Capitol Hill in recent months to tell members of Congress how to vote on the bill.
Among these are gas station companies, pizza restaurant chains, the parent company of Dunkin Donuts, and marketing associations. They’re worried that if the American people can see how many calories are in the snack foods that typify our country’s diet, people will exercise true common sense, and stop buying so much unhealthy food.