Schwarzenegger Vetos Menu Labeling Legislation

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed California’s menu labeling legislation, claiming that the burden of having to post calorie info on menus was “unfair” and “inflexible.”

From brochures to tray liners, many restaurants are responding to consumer demand by providing nutritional information to their customers in a variety of ways. Further, more and more companies are making detailed information available online, allowing consumers to compare one restaurant’s healthy dining options to another. Inflexible mandates applied sporadically are not an effective way to continue our progress in educating Californians about healthy living. Restaurants throughout California have demonstrated that they are committed to working with me to promote this goal.

Say what you want about the merits of placing calorie info on menus; we find it really interesting that the restaurant lobby is this scared to post basic information that consumers seem to really want.

The CSPI points out that a poll conducted by the California Center For Public Health Advocacy found that 84% of Californians wanted calorie info on fast food menus. The poll also discovered that people were awful at estimating nutritional information:

The poll found that a large majority (84%) of Californians support requiring fast-food and chain restaurants to post nutritional information on menus and menu boards. Support for mandatory menu labeling was strong among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The finding mirrors results of a 2004 Field Research Poll.

The poll also found that an overwhelming number of Californians are unable to identify from among typical fast-food and restaurant menu items those with the fewest calories, or the least salt, the most fat, or the most calories. Not a single respondent answered all four questions correctly. Less than 1 percent answered three of four questions correctly, only 5 percent answered two of the four questions correctly, and nearly 68 percent were unable to answer even one question correctly. Scores were equally poor regardless of education or income levels.

If you think you’re awesome at guessing nutritional info, take the quiz for yourself. We were terrible at it.

Californians Overwhelmingly Support Mandatory Menu Labeling [CCPHA]
Veto (PDF) [State of California]
Menu Labeling Veto a “Giant, Greasy Stain” on Schwarzenegger Health Record [CSPI]

PREVIOUSLY: California Assembly Passes Menu Labeling Legislation