Menu labeling for chain restaurants will be mandatory in the near future, but what about other food establishments like convenience food stores? Many convenience stores are part of a larger chain like 7-11, Quick Trip, Allsup’s, or Race Trac. This would make them fall under the “20 chains or more” clause of the Affordable Care Act, but does that qualify them as a restaurant or vending machine? It’s definitely not a black and white answer. The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) argues that they sell thousands of different products including fuel, alcohol, first aid, paper products, and food. This should disqualify them from the new labeling law. However, many convenience food stores sell hot meals such as taquitos, burritos, fried chicken or breakfast sandwiches. I think the main concern for convenience food stores is that after seeing the nutrition analysis on those bacon, egg, and cheese croissants people might opt for another choice. Not to mention the added cost of nutrition analysis, labels, and possibly store training of employees.
My opinion is that convenience stores should be required to follow the menu labeling laws. The public should have the right to make an informed decision. Will it significantly reduce revenue? I doubt it. I’ve never bought a convenience store fried burrito and even considered that it might be healthy. It’s more about the convenience, not the calories. For those people who are clueless, it might deter them from consuming a 1000 calorie breakfast sandwich (I might be exaggerating a tad…). However, I have a hunch that most people who consistently buy from convenience stores just don’t care. I do have to commend some of the convenience stores in my area for carrying healthy alternatives such as bananas, apples, and whole wheat bread sandwiches. At least they are giving people a choice. Fight this all you want, NACS, but eventually you will have to embrace it.