A good example of how far off course Democrats in Congress have strayed on the issue of health care reform, are provisions in the Senate HELP Committee draft bill creating rules and regulations governing food disclosures at fast food restaurants and in vending machines.

Titled the Affordable Health Choices Act, the Senate draft bill amends the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require food nutritional disclosures at fast food restaurants, similar to the disclosures currently required on packaged food. Under section 325 of the Senate bill (starting at p. 399), any fast food chain with 20 locations and a standardized menu would have to display “in a clear and conspicuous manner” nutrition and calorie information. The information must be “adjacent” to each menu item, and the menu must contain

a succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake, as specified by the Secretary by regulation and posted prominently on the menu and designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the caloric information that is provided on the menu…

But what about drive through windows? The information must be displayed on the drive through menu board. Salad bars and buffets? The information must be placed next to each item. Happy meals and other combos? Hmmm…. that’s a problem, so the government needs to promulgate rules and regulations to figure out what kind of signage is needed:

The Secretary shall establish by regulation standards for determining and disclosing the nutrient content for standard menu items that come in different flavors, varieties, or combinations, but which are listed as a single menu item, such as soft drinks, ice cream, pizza, doughnuts, or children’s combination meals, through means determined by the Secretary, including ranges, averages, or other methods.

But wait, surely the vending machines of the world are safe from signage. Nope, owners of 20 or more vending machines will have to post signage with the nutritional and caloric content of every item in the vending machine:

[T]he vending machine operator shall provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.

There is nothing wrong with informing consumers of meaningful information, but these provisions demonstrate how far down the food chain (pun intended) the government will go to impose government control. Signage at drive through lanes and vending machines is so ineffectual as to be laughable.

Is it really necessary to have a sign with the Snickers bar nutritional information posted at a vending machine? Does anyone ordering Twinkies for $1.25 think they are getting anything other than a sugar high? Can’t government just leave us, and our vending machines, alone for once?

Related Posts:
Throw Out The Democratic Health Care Sponge
Bureaucracy Expansion Act of 2009

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