Ann Arbor — Four of Michigan’s representatives in Washington rolled up their sleeves, donned aprons and visors and learned about the business of making pizzas Thursday during a visit to Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor.
The pizza company invited the representatives out to tour Domino’s Farms and make their own lunch as part of an effort to re-examine the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s push to require calorie labeling on menu items in restaurants.
With 43 million combinations possible on the menu, Domino’s says it would be too costly for franchisees and too confusing for customers, most of whom order online, over the phone or through an app rather than in-store.
“Even though we think it’s the right thing to do and even though we’ve had the calorie information online for a decade, we just want to do it in a way that is easier for customers and more economical for franchisees,” said Lynn Liddle, executive vice president of communications and investor relations for Domino’s.
“People like to think of pizza as big business, but it’s just the opposite: 90 percent of the stores are independently owned.”
Michigan has seven other pizza companies headquartered here. In addition to Domino’s, Metro Detroit is home to Happy’s, Hungry Howie’s, Little Caesars, Buddy’s, Cottage Inn, Jet’s and Papa Romano’s, all of which would also be affected by the proposed legislation.
The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act will require calorie information to be listed on standard items on menus and menu boards and a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. Other nutrient information — total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein — will have to be made available in writing on request.
Many restaurants and fast food chains have already complied. In July, the FDA extended the deadline to Dec. 1, 2016.
In the meantime, there is a bill before Congress to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve and clarify certain disclosure requirements for restaurants and food establishments. The bill was introduced in April and is sponsored by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.
In Michigan, four Republican representatives have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.
On Thursday, some of the representatives who have not yet signed on to support the bill toured the Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor and learned more about the business.
“One of the things that we don’t focus on is that Michigan is the pizza capital of the United States,” said Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn. “We need to understand that every Domino’s is a small business and we need to understand how our decisions in Washington affect them.”
Other Michigan representatives taking the tour Thursday included Democrat Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint and Republican Reps. Mike Bishop of Brighton and Candice Miller of Harrison Township.
Miller says she is considering whether to back the bill.
“As a mother and a grandmother, I’m always interested in understanding what is in the food we eat,” she said. “But you can accommodate that in a way that doesn’t put a burden on small businesses.”