Foodservice Equipment Reports

Industry Reels From Supreme Court Ruling On Healthcare

The foodservice industry is bemoaning the Supreme Court's June 28 ruling upholding the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Financial implications are of topmost concern. Industry leaders fear that employee requirements on the healthcare law “threaten the economic health of the restaurant industry,” according to a statement released by the National Restaurant Association. The main concern: Employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees must offer health insurance of minimum value to those full-time employees or face a penalty. In this instance, full time is considered to be about 30 hours per week or 120 hours per month. The foodservice industry says the requirement would pose an economic hardship.

The National Retail Federation's National Council of Chain Restaurants division says the ACA imposes heavy mandates on employers, according to a post-decision statement issued by Rob Green, NCCR’s executive director. “The law will particularly damage the chain restaurant industry, which operates on thin margins and cannot support costly government-imposed mandates. Many chains have indicated they will have no choice but to cut back on workers' hours or close restaurants in order to avoid the penalties."

Another aspect of the law—nutritional menu labeling—already has gone into effect for chains with 20 or more outlets. According to the Food & Drug Administration, Section 4205 became effective on March 23, 2010. At this time, the FDA considers the following menu-labeling provisions in effect for chain-restaurant companies:

  • Disclosure of calories in each standard menu item on menus and menu boards.
  • Availability of written nutrition information to consumers upon request.
  • Inclusion of “prominent, clear and conspicuous” statements on menus and menu boards about the availability of the written nutrition information.
  • Calorie information per serving or per food item for self-service items and food on display on a sign adjacent to each food item.

At least three provisions of Section 4205 will not be in effect until the FDA finalizes its regulatory requirements:

  • Statements on menus or menu boards that put calorie information in the context of a total daily caloric intake.
  • Standards for determining and disclosing the nutrient content for standard menu items that come in different flavors, varieties or combinations, but that are listed as a single menu item.
  • State and local governments cannot directly or indirectly impose any nutrition-labeling requirements on chain retail food establishments that are not “identical to” requirements imposed by Section 4205.

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