Mississippi Governor Signs Anti-Regulatory Food, Beverage Law

March 21, 2013

One week after a judge blocked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a bill preventing local governments and municipalities from enacting their own rules designating food and beverages as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. This could signify a broad shift in state laws throughout the country in determining the role of government in regulating citizens' dietary decisions.
“This legislation is important for MAMA (Mississippi Automatic Merchandising Association) members since it ensures that the state will treat food labeling consistently.  This would, in effect, prevent a New York City scenario allowing for a Mayor to support a designation unique or different from the state's," said Bob Holmes, president of MAMA in a prepared statement.
“Our group – dubbed the ‘Bloomberg Coalition’ by some, in a reference to NYC – has spearheaded the effort.  Comprised of MAMA members, industry partners and retail organizations throughout the state, the Bloomberg Coalition has worked together, making this a done deal," Holmes continued.
"The passage of this legislation not only protects consumers' freedom of choice, but it protects our industry as well," said Eric Dell, senior vice president of government affairs for NAMA, the national association dedicated to vending and refreshment services, in a prepared statement. "Our members already work very hard to provide a variety of choices to the public. Their businesses could have been greatly impacted by overly-restrictive, local regulations that would have been unduly burdensome and costly to comply with, jeopardizing the survival of countless industry operations and jobs. We applaud Gov. Bryant for signing this important legislation, as it also demonstrates that Mississippi is protective of the businesses generating valuable revenue and jobs for the state's economy," Dell continued.

It is important to note that this law is limited to Mississippi and does not impact federal regulation of nutrition labeling under existing federal law, potentially to include pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Calorie Disclosure Rules.