Steve Chapman: On the Menu, Government Meddling

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Food
Michael Bennett

On Thursday, hundreds of millions of Americans risked obesity, heart disease and indigestion by eating large quantities of food with no precise knowledge of the caloric content. If many of them felt regret on Friday, it was not because they were duped into overeating by the absence of nutritional data.

This may seem odd to the federal government, which has decreed that chain restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines and groceries shall provide information that most people don't care about and won't heed. The Food and Drug Administration acted on a provision of the Affordable Care Act mandating more nutritional labeling, and it took an aggressive interpretation of its authority: The mandate also includes movie theaters, vending machines and bars.

But the need for federal intervention is nonexistent, writes Steve Chapman, because diners already have an array of options in where to get their food.

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