Menu Labeling Legislation Gaining Momentum In California

According to the Center For Science In The Public Interest, menu labeling legislation is gaining momentum in the California State Assembly. The menu labeling law “would require chain restaurants to list calories on menu boards and calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium, and carbohydrates on printed menus.”

According to the CSPI, more than 20 states are considering similar laws.

“Californians, and indeed all Americans, deserve to know what they’re getting when they’re ordering food at chain restaurants,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. “A Double Whopper with Cheese has as many calories in Sacramento as it does in San Diego. Why not make that information available when people are making their decisions?”

We have to admit that when we first heard of this kind of law, we thought it was dumb. Then we saw that Subway had complied with it (instead of suing to stop it like McDonald’s, Wendy’s…etc.) Now we think its a good idea. People shouldn’t have to dig for calorie info.

Menu Labeling Bill Clears Key Hurdle in California [CSPI]

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  1. Ickypoopy says:

    I still dont agree that the calorie info needs to be posted on the actual menu like that. I’ve never been to a fast food restraunt that didnt have a big poster on the wall detailing all of their nutritional info (calories, fat, carbs, protein, vitamins, etc…). Many of them also have it on paper if you want to take it with you.

    Pointless government regulation.

  2. Beerad says:

    @Ickypoopy: “I’ve never been to a fast food restraunt that didnt have a big poster on the wall detailing all of their nutritional info…”

    Really? Because I’ve never, ever, ever, been to a McDonald’s or a Burger King that did have one.

    I’m not all that hot about this issue, but I did eat at a Subway recently and it’s pretty staggering, the caloric difference between an ordinary Subway sub and that of say, a Big Mac (which Subway also provided for comparison!)

  3. geek22 says:

    Any regulation that makes it easy to find out how some restaurant saturate food in salt and fat to make it taste good is not pointless.

    This may lead to restaurants using better cooking methods that make good tasting food with less salt and fat.

  4. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    On one hand, I can see the merit in this. On the other, I feel like you know you’re eating a ton of crap when you eat fast food and you’re just agreeing to that when you buy it.

  5. bbbici says:

    Why just chain restaurants? Any idea how much fat and salt is in westernized chinese food? Alfredo sauce?

    Totally unfair discrimination.

    I’m happy to see that my beloved meatball sub has the highest calorie/dollar ratio. now that’s value!

  6. jmschn says:

    This can only be of help to the consumer…anyone who thinks otherwise has beaucoup bucks vested in those companies who are afraid to post nutritional facts.

  7. timmus says:

    I can’t wait until the day Quiznos gets its ass handed to them with a labelling law like this.

  8. drjayphd says:

    @timmus: But… but there’s meat falling out of the sandwich! Isn’t that all you care about, is more meat?

  9. Starfury says:

    I don’t think that a law needs to be made for this. Anyone with half a brain knows that fast food is bad for you. There’s enough pointless laws on the books already.

    Assuming that this law does get passed: Who will pay for all of the new menu boards? I don’t want to pay for it in higher taxes/higher prices.

  10. jmschn says:

    @Starfury: If it passes, like any other laws out there, you and i will both be paying for it whether we want to or not..it’s one of those it is what it is.

  11. syndprod says:

    The only fast food place I eat at is Chik-Fil-A, and they have up a poster, right by the counter with the nutrition info for the most popular items. The original (deep fried) chicken sandwich has 410 calories (don’t remember how much fat), but the grilled has only 270 and much less fat. And I am fully willing to admit that yes, having this info in front of me did influence my order for the grilled choice. Not like I’m going to stop eating the fried version, but just eat them less often.

  12. SOhp101 says:

    @Beerad: Subway’s calorie ratings are highly misleading. They don’t include any dressings/spreads like mayo mustard or other sauces, they don’t include cheese. Just meat, basic veggies and bread.

  13. Sidecutter says:

    @SOhp101: I’m quite sure that if the standard preparation instructions for the sandwich as designed include cheese and/or a dressing of some sort, those are included in the calorie counts. In a place where you can switch out almost every topping without it being technically a different sandwich, that’s about the best that can be done.

  14. Beerad says:

    @SOhp101: I wasn’t mislead in the slightest, considering the rated sub is called “Turkey Breast” and not “Turkey and Cheese”. Moreover, considering that the condiments were listed right next to them (this was on a napkin, if I recall correctly) it wasn’t too hard to do the math.

    Admittedly, the guy after me who got the Italian with double pepperoni might have had some trouble figuring it out…

    Besides, I don’t like Southwestern Mayo Gloop ™ on my sammiches, so I’m safe in any event. Unless those banana peppers are secretly seasoned with lard.

  15. MystiMel says:

    I think the LEAST that chain restaurants should to is to have somewhere IN the store where you can find the nutrition information and ingredients.
    How hard is it to eat out if you have an allergy to something?
    I’m Vegan and I have to look up ahead of time what’s in things before I go out. If my friends eat somewhere on the fly and I want to eat with them I want to be able to find out what exactly I CAN eat.
    A lot of places like Quiznos don’t even have the nutritional information on their website for you to look at. One time I emailed them asking for the nutritional info on one of their breadbowls and they never responded.
    I could care less if it’s on the menu or not. If people want to know they should be able to find out… and preferably without making a trip home to look it up online or even send in an email request for it (like I had to do once with yoshinoya)

  16. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    There is no space on the overhead menu for this information. People are crazy.

  17. Mojosan says:

    I’m all for every restaurant doing this. Not ness. on the boards, but available somewhere.

    If its too expensive for normal restaurants to do it they could estimate based on the ingredients.

  18. tcolberg says:

    As a Californian, I’m all for this. Its rare to walk into a fast food joint and find the poster on the wall or the leaflets, and if they are there, they’re usually hidden. Many times, I’ve walked into a place, asked for the nutritional info and the workers go into the back room for a bit and come back telling me that they don’t have any. And here I was sure that if the info wasn’t posted, that it was mandated to be available at least by request! Lets get that info up on the menu and people will be forced to look at the crap they’re shoving into their mouths, rather than blithely hiding behind their ignorance.

  19. SaraAB87 says:

    They should at least be required to have the booklets displayed somewhere in the restaurant within customer reach, without having to ask the clerks for the info. Basic calorie information can be included on the overhead board however the rest needs to be accessable to everyone without having to ask for it.

  20. jamar0303 says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: So… how does Subway do it then?

  21. Havok154 says:

    @SOhp101:

    Plus, subway uses almost no meat or cheese on it’s sandwiches. If you don’t fill it up with lettuce, tomatos, etc, your sub looks like it’s just a loaf of bread. I also noticed that all of their promo pictures in the store shows sandwiches with large slices of meat and cheese folded up and falling out of the sandwich. When you get the real sub, it has some flat, tiny pieces of meat and cheese that is only about 1/10 of what was advertised in the picture.

    On-topic: I like the idea of putting calories on the menu.

  22. BenMitchell says:

    Another stupid law that serves no real purpose. If you don’t know you are eating fat and calorie laden food at Micki D’s then you are probably too stupid to read! If a LAW must be passed then how about we let local and state lawmakers decide. Keep the government out of this one.

  23. thepounder says:

    @Beerad: If he’s ordering a double pepperoni, I’m going to assume he doesn’t care about calorie counting. I certainly don’t, I just order what I like because I eat fast food so infrequently.
    And the banana peppers you enjoyed are indeed a gift from Above. mmm. :)

  24. PeggyK says:

    @BBBICI: It’s probably limited to chain restaurants because they use standardized recipes across all the restaurants in the chain. Single restaurants may prepare food differently depending on the available ingredients and who is on chef duty. They also tend to run specials and change their menus, making it difficult to keep the information up to date.

    @ BENMITCHEL: If you happen to be eating at a fast food restaurant, either by choice or necessity, it’s nice to be able to select the healthiest menu option. It isn’t necessarily obvious that many of the salads at McD’s are have more calories than a quarter pounder, at least if you use the whole dressing packet.

    I’d expect that the law is going to be most vigorously fought by chains like Denny’s and TGIFriday’s. People think of them as “better” than fast food, but many of the menu options are actually very high in calories and fat.

  25. Rusted says:

    As if I cared. High metabolism anyway. Still, my diet, balanced or not, is my responsibility. Just more nanny state-ism running a-muck.