Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Little Knowledge, A Lot of Calories

Following the city’s successful ban on the use of trans fats in restaurants, the Board of Health voted in January to require all city restaurant chains to prominently display calorie information for their menu items. The vote was met with strong opposition from the New York State Restaurant Association who is suing the Board of Health for violations of free speech. The Restaurant Association has a history of successfully blocking calorie-posting measures issued by the Board of Health and has stalled the implementation of such measures since the early 1990s. The most recent regulation would require chains to list calories as prominently as item prices by March 31, 2008. Board of Health official Susan Baronberg stated: “about three-quarters of consumers say they look at calorie information on packaged food in supermarkets, and about half say that nutrition information affects what they choose to buy.” The Board hopes that the practice of informed deliberation will lead customers to make healthier decisions at chain restaurants.

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