Health Bill Makes Menu Labeling Law For Restaurant Chains

Restaurant chains nationwide will soon have to post calorie information for all food they sell as a part of the health reform bill.

The law covers chains with 20 or more stores and vending machines. It should go into effect within a year, the Associated Press reports.

The new law will supersede all state and local laws requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie counts. Such laws are already in place or pending in seven states and a dozen localities, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Coffee drinks can range from 20 calories to 800 calories, and burgers can range from 250 calories to well over 1,000 calories,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan in a statement. “With the health reform legislation passed today, Congress is giving Americans easy access to the most critical piece of nutrition information they need when eating out. While it’s a huge victory for consumers, it’s just one of dozens of things we will need to do to reduce rates of obesity and diet-related disease in this country.”

The National Restaurant Association reversed its longstanding opposition to menu labeling last year and praised the new law. But Deborah Dowdell, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, which represents 23,000 food and drink businesses, told the Wall Street Journal that the law will increase costs for restaurants and might not be the most effective way to counter the obesity epidemic.

CSPI has the calorie information provision as well as the entire health reform bill.

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Bridget Huber is a FairWarning contributor.

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