House Republicans next week are expected to call up a bipartisan bill that would take the sting out of Obamacare's rules that require restaurants and other retail food establishments to provide calorie counts and other nutritional information to customers.
The Obamacare rules sparked outrage by some Republicans who said they would create a significant burden on coffee shops, pizza parlors, and others to comply. Since then, many restaurants have adapted, but a group of Republicans and Democrats are still pushing for ways to ease the impact of the rule.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., would make a few major changes to the rules.
First, it get restaurants off the hook from having to provide calorie counts and other information for every possible combination of food.
"Under the current rule, every deli and salad bar offering, every possible pizza topping combination, will have to be calculated and their calorie count displayed on physical menus," she said about her bill last year.
"The FDA wants these restaurants to put on paper all of these variations and their calorie counts, and have it publicly displayed in the restaurants," she added. "It's an unrealistic use of these business owners' time."
A second change would allow retail food establishments to provide nutritional information online, if most of their customers are ordering food online and having it delivered.
And third, it would eliminate some of the law's criminal penalties against companies that fail to comply. McMorris Rodgers said last year it doesn't make sense to demand strict and complete accuracy from restaurants given the nature of how meals are prepared and served.
"An employee that puts too many pickles on a sandwich thereby increasing the calorie count stated on the menu should not face criminal charges or class-action lawsuits," she said.
House Republican leaders have put the bill on a tentative House schedule for next week, a sign that the GOP will try to pass it sometime by mid-week.