CHICAGO -- One week after a judge blocked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large-size sodas, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a bill preventing local governments and municipalities from enacting their own rules pertaining to nutrition labeling of food and beverages on menus in restaurants and in vending machines. The new law also reverses to the state the authority to designate food and beverages as "healthy" or "unhealthy."
"This legislation is important for Mississippi Automatic Merchandising Association members since it ensures that the state will treat food labeling consistently. This would, in effect, prevent a New York City scenario allowing a mayor to support a designation unique or different from the state's," said Bob Holmes of Refreshments Inc. (Corinth, MI), president of MAMA.
MAMA along with several other organizations, unofficially dubbed the "Anti-Bloomberg Coalition," was instrumental in pushing for the legislation.
"The passage of this legislation not only protects consumers' freedom of choice, but it protects our industry as well," said Eric Dell, National Automatic Merchandising Association senior vice-president of government affairs. "Our members already work very hard to provide a variety of choices to the public. Their businesses could have been greatly impacted by overly-restrictive, local regulations that would have been unduly burdensome and costly to comply with, jeopardizing the survival of countless industry operations and jobs."
The bills will not affect nutrition labeling under existing federal law, which will eventually include the FDA's pending calorie-disclosure rules. A deadline has still not been set for publishing the final calorie-disclosure rules that will apply to vending operations with 20 or more machines.