Seattle To Require Calorie Labeling At Chain Restaurants, Cut Trans Fat

Seattle will be going trans fat free, according to the CSPI. Not only that, Kings County is also adding a calorie labeling requirement similar to that of NYC. NYC is currently being sued over the regulation by the a restaurant group representing most fast food chains. Subway has complied with the requirement and their menu is being used as an example in court.

Anyhow, the CSPI says:

Last night, the King County, Washington Board of Health voted to require food service establishments to phase out their use of artificial trans fat and to list nutrition information on chain restaurant menus. The menu labeling rule only affects chain restaurants with 10 or more outlets and that have standardized menu items. Starting in August 2008, those restaurants will be required to list calories on menu boards, and calories, carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sodium on printed menus. Like a New York City regulation adopted last December, King County’s artificial trans fat phase out occurs in two steps. Food service establishments have until April 1, 2008, to switch to trans-fat-free frying oils and shortenings and until February 1, 2009, to remove artificial trans fat from other products.

The CSPI has also done a mockup of what a typical Starbucks menu will look like once it includes calorie information. Part of it is shown above, to see the rest, click here. My, some of those drinks have a lot of calories. For comparison’s sake a Big Mac has 540 calories.

In Seattle, Menu Labeling Is In, Trans Fat is Out [CSPI]
Example Starbucks Menu [CSPI]

PREVIOUSLY: Subway Is Not Ashamed: First Fast Food Restaurant To Put Calorie Info On Menus

Comments

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  1. Hawkins says:

    750 calories? That’s like a six-pack of beer.

  2. azntg says:

    Anybody get the feeling that this is going to eventually turn into one giant lawsuit? Looks like the fast food industry does have some secrets to hide…

  3. anatak says:

    Wow. Health food, they are not. Hrrmm… let me guess why these fast food chains are fighting this….

    hrrrmm….


    So what are the odds that Seattle restaurants will follow suit with those in NYC?

  4. enm4r says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t care whether or not these places, which are already extremely unhealthy, are banned from using trans fats?

  5. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    Slim. Most Seattlites are firmly behind this decision. Independent restaurants in the area are mostly in favor of the bill, and the chains will get an earful if they try anything stupid.

  6. drrew says:

    Count me as a Seattlite firmly against this decision. I would imagine the cost to redo menus at all of these locations is going to be enormous. I’m all for requiring places to have the information available, but legislating that that it has to be posted in a specific matching font size is silly.

    I can’t stand government intervention into things they shouldn’t be dealing with…unfortunately, I live in Seattle.

    Having been fortunate enough to live in several different places throughout the country and Australia, Seattle is the most anti-business city I’ve ever seen, this is just more evidence.

  7. coconino says:

    omg,i will never drink another cup of mocha again.

  8. Gopher bond says:

    I’m sure a whole hoard of people will change their habits once the calories are on the label. Why just this morning, the fat lady next to me had her regular morning Mocha-Caramel-Cookie-Dough-Bacon-Pretzel-Chicken Wing-Coconut Latte and I said, yo, fatty, did you know that counts as meal, it’s got like 600 calories.

    She was in shock. Apparently, she had no idea.

  9. TheName says:

    Count me as a Seattle-ite happy with this oh-so-intrusive government regulation. Even dietitians can’t make educated guesses about calorie and fat content in these foodstuffs and I’m of the opinion that information and transparency is a good thing. Wonderful bit about the NY version in the NYT recently: [www.nytimes.com]

    DRREW: As for the “cost” due to “government intervention”: bah. I’ll be sure to smuggle a bit of un-inspected meat and/or produce your way. I’ll happily live in my anti-business, pro-consumer city!

  10. camille_javal says:

    This is just idle speculation, but I wonder if all this calorie-posting could potentially slow up lines. I’m just imagining people standing there, staring at the menu, trying to figure out what they should get (and likely saying, “Fuck it,” and getting what they would have gotten normally.

    I’m all for making this information available – the few McDonald’s I’ve been in the past few years have paper pamphlets – but I’m not sure that *forcing* people to see the information is going to make a huge difference. The calorie information on packaged food is clearly visible, but that’s not stopping people from eating the 410 calorie package of Pop Tarts.

    (Although, on the other hand, I’d kind of like it if Starbucks had calorie contents posted next to their baked goods – I don’t have that information memorized, and sometimes it would be nice to know if maybe I *can* have a cookie, or if the “Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffin” is going to blow my food consumption for the day.)

  11. camille_javal says:

    @coconino: that’s the frappucino – they’re higher in calories. A regular grande no-whip 2% mocha has 260 calories.

    (man, I feel like I’m outing myself as a psycho on consumerist today.)

  12. 12monkeys says:

    6 pack of crap beer maybe. I dont do Starbucks anyway. They are becoming more and more Wal-mart like every minute.

  13. royal72 says:

    waste of time and money. people in general don’t give a shit and/or don’t have a clue about what they put into their bodies. ei: without going to the fridge, do you have any idea what you get with a cup of 2% milk? calories, fat, protein, carbs/sugars, vitamins? the ratio of protein/fat/carb?… and more importantly, your body’s ability to use the fuel you give it and what that means?

  14. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @12monkeys: Huh? I’m pretty sure good beer isn’t lower in calories.

  15. saruyama says:

    @ANNIEGETYOURFUN

    The independent restaurants might support this over the chains, but if you look at health inspection reports the chains are actually cleaner than the hip independent places in Seattle. Healthfulness is not through calories alone.

  16. lonelymaytagguy says:

    Today I was looking up some foods on the Wendy’s web site and found the following notice:


    “We regret that Wendy’s cannot provide product calorie information to residents or customers in New York City. The New York City Department of Health passed a regulation requiring restaurants that already provide calorie information to post product calories on their menu boards — using the same type size as the product listing.

    We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn’t enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation. We have for years provided complete nutritional information on posters inside the restaurant and on our website. To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.

    We regret this inconvenience. If you have questions about this regulation, please contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and refer to Health Code Section 81.50.”

  17. formergr says:

    The CSPI got the accent mark on the ‘e’ in “Blended Creme” backward. And I know that shouldn’t bother me as much as it does…

  18. FromThisSoil says:

    First of all, people treat fast food (including Starbucks) as a staple. Fast food is a treat – a once in awhile thing.

    Starbucks should not be a daily occurrence, but for some it is. Maybe having the calories on the menu will change the habits of those people (which of course is bad for business – which is why the companies are fighting it).

  19. Rusted says:

    Nanny States suck. Aren’t we supposed to watch out for ourselves? Just a matter of time before I get arrested for having a medium rare prime rib…..

  20. dantsea says:

    Okay, I’m all for this but I’d like to see it applied to independent restaurants as well. I think people would probably be surprised to find out that their precious high-end comestibles are loaded with just as much calories, fat and cholesterol as the dreck served at the local ChainCo. outlet down the street.

  21. Rusted says:

    I need those calories, bring it on….