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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is set to propose rules that would limit the sale of fast-food restaurants to healthy eating.
The agency will announce the rules in late March.
The agency’s proposed rules would also restrict the sale to children under 18 and restrict the consumption of unhealthy foods to adults.
A draft of the proposed rules, obtained by The Associated Press, calls for fast food restaurants to be required to sell only healthy items, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, dried fruits and grains.
The rule would also prohibit selling junk food and candy.
FDA rules also would prohibit advertising the sale or use of junk food, which the agency has said can lead to obesity.
Fast food is already banned from the list of foods allowed on vending machines at fast-track airports and in most food stores, including fast-fashion chains like Dunkin’ Donuts.
“It is not a question of whether fast food has health benefits, but when we use our food to get people to eat healthier,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a longtime fast-casual critic, said in a statement.
“It is unacceptable that a restaurant that sells foods that contribute to our nation’s health could be subject to regulation in the name of health.”
The FDA said in its proposal that its proposed rules are meant to be a framework for the agency to develop and implement policies and procedures for the food industry.
It has been criticized by the American Medical Association, which called the proposed rule “dangerous” and “unnecessary.”
“The FDA’s proposed regulations are overly burdensome and unnecessary,” AMA President Robert Naiman said in an emailed statement.
In addition to limiting fast food sales to healthy foods, the FDA also proposed limits on sales of beverages and food products made with sugar.
Currently, fast food and other fast-service restaurants must adhere to strict regulations that require restaurants to make the products healthier and provide healthier options for people to buy.
While the rules are aimed at protecting people from unhealthy food, they could also hurt businesses.
Fast food is the fastest-growing restaurant industry, accounting for more than a third of the industry’s $6.9 trillion annual revenue, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Food manufacturers have long struggled to convince consumers to stop buying fast food, and many restaurants have moved to use artificial colors, flavors and other marketing techniques to sell unhealthy food.
Other food companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s, also have come under fire for marketing unhealthy foods.