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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Ricker's Convenience Stores owner Jay Ricker is speaking out against the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) impending regulations of menu labeling requirements, expected to be released next month.
In an op-ed for The Journal Gazette, Ricker wrote that while 149,000 convenience stores offer a quick, clean and friendly space to purchase life's essentials, the average customer's trip time from leaving their car to returning with a purchase is just three minutes and 33 seconds.
"So, how much time would you be willing to spend deciphering nutritional information if it were wallpapered across the store?" Ricker asked. "And how much more money would you be willing to pay to cover those costs?"
Ricker's operates 51 c-stores across Indiana, meaning the company falls under the rule that requires restaurants and "similar retail food establishments" with 20 or more locations to post calorie labels. While Ricker's sells packaged foods along with freshly prepared items, it isn't a restaurant and shouldn't be grouped with them, Ricker argued.
The proposed law is the answer to a "patchwork" of different state laws regarding menu labeling, but will treat pizzerias, grocery stores and convenience stores as if they're all the same, he argued.
"The result is that all food prepared on-site will require nutritional testing, employees will need more training, and business owners will need to foot the bill for printing and updating signage," Ricker continued. "That's a lot of money and man hours for a family business like ours and will result in higher prices for families like yours."
Family-owned businesses may be less able to grow if their time and resources are occupied by complying with FDA regulations, and they may be unnecessary, Ricker wrote. He noted that a recent Gallup poll found that less than half of Americans look at nutrition information in restaurants.
"Ricker's is proud to be made in Indiana, and we want to continue to provide jobs as well as convenience and quality service for all Hoosiers. While I'm eager to help drive the discussion on public health and nutrition forward, this top-down, paternalistic style of governance is not good for our business or our customers," he concluded.