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Health Care

Pizza Chains Say Obamacare Could Deliver Price Increases

(ISTOCK)

photo of Clara Ritger
November 20, 2013

While many businesses have complaints about Obamacare, pizza chains say the law might deliver their customers a price increase.

Last year, the CEO and founder of Papa John's promised a price hike if the president's signature health reform initiative was allowed to take effect. Pizza prices would be 14 cents higher to cover the cost of providing employees health insurance, "Papa" John Schnatter said.

Now Domino's has joined the law's critics. Executive Vice President Lynn Liddle said the calorie-posting requirement will cost the Domino's mom-and-pop franchisees as much as $5,000.

 

"We're a big-name brand, but these are all very small-business people," Liddle said. "Half of our 1,000 franchisees in the United States only own one pizza store."

The Food and Drug Administration released its draft regulations for complying with the Affordable Care Act requirement to post calories conspicuously in food establishments. The FDA's draft regulations require the calorie counts to appear wherever there is a worded menu for customers. Domino's takes issue with the requirement to post them on in-store menu boards, arguing that their online Cal-O-Meter should be sufficient.

"It spits out the calorie counts for your specific choice of pizza," Liddle said. "You can't just slap those calories on a menu board. Each pizza is so different, there'd have to be a range."

Because most customers order pizza online or over the phone, Liddle said, the expense of the in-store menu board doesn't make sense. The company found that on average, its New York City stores spent $5,000 to comply with the calorie-posting requirement passed by the local government. They have not, however, discussed whether meeting the requirement would mean a price increase.

Papa John's and Domino's aren't the only chains to level complaints at the administration. One-time Republican presidential candidate Hermain Cain, also the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, told Time last year that if Obama was reelected, deep-dish would disappear.

"With Obama in a second term," Cain said, "there will be no pizza. For anyone."

Luckily for pizza-lovers, the worst-case scenario isn't a world without their hand-tossed staple, but rather, a more expensive pie.

This article appears in the November 21, 2013 edition of NJ Daily.

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