How Will the Trump Administration Affect Nutrition Policy in Supermarkets?
By Vestcom’s Patty Packard, MS, RD & Monica Amburn, MS, RD, LDN
The new year brings a new administration, which has the entire nation waiting to see what happens next when it comes to many social policies. As many of us have realized, nutrition policies and regulations are not exempt from this journey into the unknown. While we do not have a crystal ball to predict the results of regulations which impact our industry, we can make some assumptions for 2017 based on typical federal agency practices, and the information we have on the priorities of the incoming administration.
First, it is helpful to understand how the government reviews regulation and policies. At the end of every year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) releases the annual priorities for the FDA, USDA and other federal agencies for the upcoming year. This matters, as the OMB is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States, and its primary function is to determine the President’s budget, while monitoring the quality and effectiveness of various federal agency programs.
Some of the 2017 nutrition-related priorities for the FDA include:
- Calorie labeling of vending machines
- Food Safety
- Rules surrounding soy protein and heart health claims
- Pet food nutrition criteria
The 2017 nutrition-related priorities for USDA include:
- Rulemaking on the implementation of a national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard
- Update nutrition labeling to align with the FDA’s 2016 changes
While these are all important priorities to our profession, they may not be as top of mind for the Trump administration in the first year. It is possible that these initiatives carry forward or remain unaltered until possibly later in this presidential term.
However, the Trump administration appears to be very focused on the reversal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as “Obamacare”. If Obamacare is totally repealed, one nutrition-related regulation that could go away is the requirement to add menu calorie labeling to all restaurant and grocery store menus (with more than 20 establishments), since this policy is contained within the ACA. If Congress overturns Obamacare, the requirement for menu calorie labeling will also be repealed. This does not mean supermarkets wouldn’t be allowed to post calorie information on fresh/prepared foods and menus; it simply means it would no longer be a federal requirement.
While calorie labeling seems to be the policy most at risk in 2017, do not despair (or rejoice) just yet. Congress is not known to act quickly, and there are many consequences to overturning the ACA which may require more deliberations and planning before change can be made. But based on what we’ve seen so far, it is safe to expect the unexpected in the next few years when it comes to nutrition and food policy.
About the authors: Patty is the Director of Nutrition & Regulatory at Vestcom, and Monica is the Senior Director of Health and Wellness at Vestcom. Both Patty and Monica work together with the entire healthyAisles team to develop and deliver custom healthyAisles attribute programs to over 30 banners and 15,000 stores nationwide. If you have regulatory questions, please feel free to reach out to Patty at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica can be reached at email@example.com for any healthyAisles marketing or program related questions for your stores.