ObamaCare’s Costly Menu-Labeling Mandate is Destined to Fail

The Food and Drug Administration is going to try its hand at shaming consumers into making healthier choices when they go out to eat.

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the FDA announced a controversial and expansive rule that will require certain establishments with 20 or more locations — including chain restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, and movie theaters — to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards. A separate rule was also issued requiring operators of 20 or more vending machines to post calorie information.

Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, a provision included in the law by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), directed the FDA to promulgate and implement national calorie labeling mandates that, supporters argue, will combat obesity ostensibly by shaming consumers into making healthier choices.

The FDA estimates that the national calorie labeling mandates will cost affected industries nearly $1.7 billion over the next 20 years, substantially higher than the regulations the agency initially proposed in 2011. This cost estimate is probably conservative. The Food Marketing Institute says compliance costs will run in excess of $1 billion in the first year alone.