November 23, 2015
While most consumers are blissfully unaware, a provision tucked into the Affordable Care Act could cause food vendors a lot of headaches. Starting on December 1, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to require all chain food restaurants with 20 or more locations will have to list calorie information for “standard menu items” on all signs and printed menus. This includes pizza shops and grocery store salad or hot food bars which offer dizzying arrays of options and some that change daily. But businesses are fighting back and this week the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill backed by many in the industry.
The rule, which is intended to help...
November 16, 2015
The casino industry has been good for my home state of Pennsylvania. For whatever ills one might claim goes along with gambling, the gaming industry has brought Pennsylvania $1.7 billion in total labor income, supports almost 34,000 jobs, and generates more than $2.4 billion in total tax revenues. Tomorrow, Pennsylvania state representatives will likely have a chance to vote on whether or not to take that industry online by allowing the state to license Internet gambling. Of course, wherever there is big money there is politics. While the move would make Pennsylvania more competitive with neighboring states like New Jersey and Delaware and generate even more tax revenue...
November 11, 2015
That is the big question in New York today after that state’s attorney general issued a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel—the two most popular websites in the daily fantasy sports wagering. In the order, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman contends that that the websites constitute illegal gambling under state law, according to which gambling is when a person “engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that...
November 2, 2015
This week, the House Energy and Commerce committee will hold a mark-up hearing on the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 2017), a bipartisan bill intended to deal with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act that could increase the burden on small businesses and unintentionally increase the price families pay when they eat at restaurants.
Provision 4205 of the ACA requires that retail food...
October 29, 2015
In this clown-car of a GOP primary, it’s inevitable that the discussion will sometimes veer onto more superficial avenues of questioning. After all, news is entertainment and a little light-hearted banter can be the spice that makes the meal more palatable. But, by most accounts, the CNBC moderators in last night’s debate were all fluff and no substance. At one point, in what was one of the strongest moments of the debate, Chris Christie mocked the moderators for their superficial questions. “Are we really talking about getting...
October 26, 2015
You may have seen the hilarious headlines about putting Monsanto in your vagina (if not, you’re welcome/I’m sorry). This hyperbole comes on the heels of a new study showing that the majority of cotton products tested by Argentinian researchers were found to contain glyphosate—the herbicide made by Monsanto and commercially known as Roundup. Even if you’re comfortable with farmers spraying crops with chemicals that keep away insects or competing plants, like weeds, the idea of putting that into your hooha is probably less comfortable of a thought.
The good news is that, as with most headlines, these findings have been taken out of context and probably aren’t...
October 14, 2015
The folks at Food & Water Watch are pissed. And I don’t mean “pissed” as in drunk; they are mad as hell about the proposed merger between two big breweries and demanding the Department of Justice step in and block the deal. Despite the fact that big breweries have been merging and acquiring bits and pieces of each other for decades, F&WW believes that allowing Anheuser-Bush InBev to acquire SABMiller would bring about an end to this golden age of beer we’re currently enjoying. My advice to them is to crack open a beer and take a deep breath.
After months of negotiation, Anheuser-Busch InBev (purveyor of Budweiser, Stella, and now Corona) announced it had reached an agreement to acquire...
October 8, 2015
Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz recently threw his hat in the ring in a bid to replace Speaker John Boehner, after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) gaffe regarding the Benghazi investigation made the race far more open. As my colleague Jessica Melugin notes, Chaffetz considers himself one of the more tech-savvy members of Congress and a strong defender of the Tenth Amendment.
Yet, Chaffetz has ...
October 7, 2015
RAWA (H.R. 707) is dying the slow death of bills that aren’t sexy enough to draw attention away from much sexier issues. With the House speakership up for grabs, a looming budget crisis (again), and presidential primaries heating up, folks on the Hill seem to care little about a long-shot proposal to ban Internet gambling. Perhaps this is why an event to discuss the measure—one which featured two former members of Congress and three respected political strategists—attracted just one attendee. That is, there was only one person in attendance 20 minutes into the hour-long event, after three other people (myself included), were asked to leave.
The “Policy Forum” was hosted by The Keelen Group, one of the many...
October 4, 2015
Last month, I wrote about how the new nutritional labels might end up making Americans fatter and sicker. Particularly dangerous, in my opinion, is the addition of the “added sugars” requirement. Having both total sugar and added sugars may confuse some consumers, some of whom might think that foods with no or low added sugars are okay to indulge in, without thinking about the total amount of sugar in the item. Canadian health officials seem to have worried about the same issues when they considered, and ultimately rejected, requiring added sugars be listed on nutritional facts panels.
Back in June, Health Canada announced plans to revise nutritional labeling requirements for foods sold in the country. As with the FDA’s...