Vaping isn’t the only issue on which the Food and Drug Administration has stopped its ears to distress cries from the regulated community. It has now followed through with a stringent rather than lenient version of the menu labeling concept mandated by the ObamaCare law, one that will extend coverage to doubtful areas including some restaurant coupons and advertisements and ensure burdensome compliance issues for variety items such as toppings on pizza or ice cream. [CS News, Elizabeth Harrington/Free Beacon, earlier]
“An oft-forgotten provision of Obamacare is being pushed over the finish line by Trump’s FDA.” [Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico; Jacob Sullum (FDA overstates evidence); Mike Riggs (FDA honcho Scott Gottlieb “is not a free market firebrand”); Christian Schneider, USA Today] Earlier on FDA menu labeling here.
Another hidden gift inside the Affordable Care Act: mandatory calorie labeling for many restaurant menus. Walter Olson comments on the complications and potential unintended consequences of such a mandate.
My new Cato podcast: the new FDA calorie labeling rules apply to not-so-big chains (20 +) of grocery stores and amusement facilities as well as restaurants, and make it less likely that servers and local managers will manage to vary from rigidly standardized recipes, menu listings and portion sizes based on knowledge of their local customers, temporary availability of attractive ingredients, and so forth. That won’t matter much for food servers who already design their offerings in a lab, but spells trouble for those whose offerings are more localized or unpredictable (earlier). Coverage by Ed Morrissey of what the scheme would mean for a 21-unit pizza chain is linked here.
In January, David Boaz commented on the parallel vending machine calorie label mandate:
In my experience, vending machines shuffle their offerings fairly frequently. If the machine operators have to change the calorie information displayed every time they swap potato chips for corn chips, then $2,200 [per operator per year] seems like a conservative estimate of costs. But then, as Hillary Clinton said when it was suggested that her own health care plan would bankrupt small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”
More: Baylen Linnekin. And Julie Gunlock recalls her own days working in a supermarket deli. Goodbye, making up prepared salads in single-serving containers from whatever produce happened to be in overstock at the time. Hello, food waste!
Remember how the food safety crackdown was going to be a win-win affair for all of us, with only the sinister interests of Big Food having anything real to lose? New Orleans Times-Picayune:
In an effort to reduce cases of a rare, but potentially fatal, bacterial illness contracted from raw oysters, the FDA announced new rules this month that will require any oyster served from April through October to undergo a sterilization process before it can be sold in restaurants or on the market.
The rule will essentially eliminate raw oysters — at least as Louisianans know them — from restaurant menus for seven months of the year. Even oysters that will eventually be cooked during those months would have to go through the same cleansing process before being added to any dish, a move some say would undermine the culinary integrity of some of New Orleans’ most famous delicacies. …
C.J. Casamento, the owner of Casamento’s restaurant on Magazine Street, said many chefs have tried the sterilized oysters in the past but have stopped because the flavor isn’t the same. … “If they try to implement this, it will destroy all the raw oyster restaurants in the city.”
Another restaurant owner, Tommy Cvitanovich of Drago’s, called the rules “ludicrous”, pointing out that they will also require sterilization of oysters destined for cooked use in gumbos, broils and po’ boys. Processor Mike Voisin compared the new guidelines to a “nuclear bomb” on the oyster business. And Louisiana state health officials, as well as fisheries officials, have assailed the new rules as going too far.
- Delay FDA menu labeling rules? Tinker? No, repeal [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- European trade negotiators would like to keep cheeses and beverages on American shelves from bearing names like Parmesan, Gouda, feta, Champagne, port, and sherry unless made over there. Nein danke, no grazie, non merci [William Watson, Cato] Weird how EU laws prevent spirits producers from being completely honest with consumers [Jacob Grier]
- Regressive-yet-progressive: “Taxing soda fits the narrative in which the obese are oppressed and soda manufacturers are the oppressors.” [Arnold Kling]
- New research (“no consensus among scientists on whether a population-wide reduction of salt was associated with better health outcomes”) could be blow to Gotham’s sodium regulation cause [Dan Goldberg, Politico New York] “Suit Halts NYC’s Misguided Restaurant Salt Warning Labels” [Linnekin]
- Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]
- Chef turned Amish traditional sausage maker in rural Maine finds that regulation is a grind [Linnekin]
- Tufts doc who wants to “eliminate” sweetened drinks is senior author on flawed new study on their health effects [Gil Ross, ACSH]
- Nick Gillespie interviews celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian (“In Praise of Free Enterprise Food”) and Whole Foods’ John Mackey. “Despite the strength of our local food movement, Kentucky joins Delaware and Rhode Island as the three most restrictive states in the country for cottage food sales.” [LEO Weekly, Louisville]
- Fears of toast-spread homebrew in remote communities: “Australia suggests Vegemite sales limit amid ‘alcohol abuse'” [BBC] More: less-sensational followup coverage h/t reader Mark N. in comments;
- You really ought to give Iowa-defiance a try: Rand Paul is latest candidate to oppose ethanol mandate [Rare]
- “Next Time Government Gives You Dietary Advice, Consider Doing the Opposite” [David Harsanyi] Multiple topping combinations + steep penalties add up to vexation for pizza makers under FDA menu labeling mandate [Savannah Saunders, Economics21; Veronique de Rugy, Reason] “Health Canada Gets it Right, While FDA Goes Further Astray, on ‘Added Sugars’ Labeling” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- “Federal Judge, Referencing FDA Order on Trans Fat, Permits State-Law Class Action to Proceed” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- Plaintiff says he bit into someone else’s gold tooth in his biscuit [Nick Farr]
- Why manufacturers often push for the government to define food terms like “natural” [Peter Van Doren, Cato]
- The curse of Prohibition: how government nearly killed the cocktail [Peter Suderman]
- “Judge tosses class action suits over ‘100 percent grated Parmesan cheese’ label” [ABA Journal] “Food Court Follies: Fraud Suits Fall Apart after Plaintiffs’ Candid Admissions During Discovery” [Glenn Lammi, WLF] “Will a class-action suit really benefit those who bought Starburst [candies] expecting eight-percent fewer calories?” [Baylen Linnekin]
- Farmers are good at replenishing their flying livestock: “How Capitalism Saved the Bees” [Shawn Regan]
- “Menu labeling rules have not proven to have a significant effect on the amount of calories people consume” [Charles Hughes, Economics21 on FDA decision to proceed]
- More reactions to the Seventh Circuit’s caustic ruling (“no better than a racket”) on the Subway footlong settlement [George Leef, Cory Andrews, earlier]
- “Judge dismisses lawsuit that challenged Zillow’s home price estimates” [Chicago Tribune, earlier]
- Seventh Circuit: immunity doctrine bars relief for governor’s aide whose home was raided in Wisconsin John Doe probe [Archer v. Chisholm, earlier]
- Good news: Federal court kills Obama overtime-for-midlevel-employees rule much criticized in this space [Trey Kovacs, CEI]
- Not so good news: new FDA management decides to leave in place Obama menu labeling regs much criticized in this space [Katherine Mangu-Ward, Baylen Linnekin]
- Senate holds hearing on proposals to break up Ninth Circuit [Diamond Naga Siu, Politico, earlier]
- “Will U.S. Policymakers Repeat Our Past Protectionist Failures?” [Scott Lincicome, Cato]
- “Hilariously Truthful Defense of Waffle House Goes Viral” [Jeffrey Tucker, FEE]
- New York joins 26 states in limiting liability for pick-your-own and other agritourism businesses [Paul Post, The Saratogian]
- “Removing Glyphosate from Our Food Won’t Make Us Safer” [Jenny Splitter, Vice]
- U.K.: advisor to World Health Organization suggests drinking be “de-normalized” by making compulsory cancer warnings on alcoholic beverages [Benedict Spence, The Spectator]
- “Mandating Menu Labeling is Foolish, Not ‘Easy'” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason, earlier]
- How exactly is limiting the size of meal portions in restaurants a proper function for the government of India? [Rupa Subramanya/LiveMint via Alex Tabarrok]