Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Food Regulations

By Diana Hsieh

The Obama Administration has announced its new method of meddling with our food choices. In 2012, nearly half of all restaurants in America will be forced to post nutritional information on its menus:

The FDA estimates that the regulation, as proposed, would apply to 278,600 establishments, out of an estimated 600,000 restaurants nationwide, according to the National Restaurant Association. It projects the initial cost of complying with the proposed requirements is $315.1 million, with an estimated ongoing cost of $44.2 million. Per restaurant establishment, that averages $1,100, the FDA says.

For consumers, the new regulations will mean that the calorie counts of everything from a Chipotle burrito to a Starbucks Frappuccino must be posted in a font size that is "clear and conspicuous" and color that's "at least as conspicuous as" the print listing the menu item, according to the agency's guidance.
That's 315 million dollars (!!) initially, plus an extra 44 million dollars (!!) per year, stripped from its rightful owners by regulation. How many restaurants will scale back on plans for expansion, fire employees, or even close their doors as a result of this loss? The bureaucrats probably don't know -- and certainly don't care.

To pour salt on this wound, such nutritional labels have already been proved ineffective. People order more, not less, when calorie counts are posted. That's hardly surprising: the requirement of nutritional labels on grocery store foods hasn't improved the eating habits or health of Americans. To the extent that most Americans pay attention to the labels, they follow the low-fat advice of the government and its media lackeys. That's not helpful, to say the least!

In other words, "We're from the government, and we're here to help! Now that our nutritional guidelines have made you fat and sick, we're going to impose a burdensome regulation on restaurants. That won't be effective in the slightest, but we need to look like we're doing something!"

Gee, thanks! But... next time, can't we try something different, like leaving food producers, distributors, and consumers free to trade voluntarily, on mutually agreeable terms, without your meddling?

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