Judge: Calories To Be Posted On Fast Food Menus In NYC!

The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog informs us that a federal judge has given the go ahead to NYC’s new (rewritten) menu labeling law, thus ending (until the inevitable appeal) a fierce and sometimes weird battle between the fast food industry and NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The Department issued a triumphant-sounding press release:

“Today’s decision is a victory which will give New Yorkers the calorie information they need – where they need it – to make informed, healthier choices,” said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden. “We hope these restaurants will accept the judgment and become part of the solution. This regulation could prevent at least 150,000 New Yorkers from becoming obese and prevent at least 30,000 New Yorkers from developing diabetes and other health concerns over the next 5 years.”
“The New York City Health Code provision in dispute — which makes calorie information available at the point of purchase – is a critical component in the efforts to address the obesity epidemic,” said Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo of the New York City Law Department, which litigated the case on behalf of the Health Department. “We are very pleased that Judge Holwell concluded that this provision is not pre-empted by federal regulations, and that it does not violate the First Amendment. We are confident that Judge Holwell’s ruling will be upheld if it is appealed.”

From the WSJ Health blog:

What’s more, the judge bought the big picture argument behind the rule: “It seems reasonable to expect that some consumers will used the information disclosed … to select lower calorie meals when eating at covered restaurants and that these choices will lead to a lower incidence of obesity,” he wrote.

The new regulation goes into effect next week and only affects restaurants with 15 or more locations operating under the same name. Get ready to laugh at the shocked expressions on your fellow Starbucks customers’ faces as they learn that their favorite drink (Venti Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino® Blended Crème, 750 calories) has more calories than a Whopper (only 680).

Judge: NYC Can Force Chain Restaurants to Post Calorie Counts [WSJ Health Blog]
Read The Court Ruling (PDF) [NYC]
Read The Compliance Guide For Restaurants (PDF) [NYC]

PREVIOUSLY: Wendy’s Sends Scary Legal Threats Over Photoshopped Menu That Includes Calorie Info
NYC To Vote On New And Improved Menu Labeling Regulation
60 Minutes Tackles The Menu Labeling Controversy
New York City Proposes New Menu Labeling Regulations