The Affordable Care Act, Calorie Labeling, and You

                “Every year our government adds thousands and thousands of pages of new rules,” John Stossel stated in his TV special, War on the Little Guy.   Now a new regulation is scheduled to go into effect – one that FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg says “will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”  Vending machine operators that run more than twenty machines must post calorie counts (when not otherwise visible before purchase) for sale items.  This rule, buried in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, is to go into full effect July 26th, 2018 – it took the FDA four years just to spell out a regulation that would fulfil the ACA’s provisions.  In fact, their final ruling even regulates “type size, color, and contrast requirements for calorie declarations in or on the vending machines.”   While this regulation will clearly have costs for the industries it affects, the FDA contends that it will “enable consumers to make informed and healthful dietary choices.”  It sounds fantastic!  Operators spend a little on calorie labels, and now all vending machine consumers can be healthy!  Is this the case?  Do the benefits really outweigh the costs?

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