As summer heats up, it’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court releases its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Whatever the court decides will have dramatic implications for the future of health care nationally, and in California. Many fail to note, however, that the decision also will have massive effects on menu labeling requirements for the restaurant industry.
“Whether its health care or menu labeling, it really doesn’t matter what happens at the federal level,” said Matt Sutton, senior legislative director at the California Restaurant Association. “California’s always led on both of these issues, so regardless of how it goes, our Legislature has a history of seeking ambitious programs on both fronts.”
If the federal requirements are ultimately tossed out California legislators will likely be quick to reinstate California’s menu labeling requirements as outlined in SB 1420, Sutton said.
Menu labeling was included by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in the prevention title of the health care bill and an act by the court to invalidate the entire law would throw out the menu labeling law, immediately reverting the regulations to the existing patchwork of state and local laws that are still in place.
At this point, no one knows what the court will decide. The consensus from the National Restaurant Association’s outside counsel is that the court will not invalidate the entire law. However, it’s important that the restaurant industry is prepared for any possibility.