National Menu Labeling Law Moves Closer To Reality

As states continue to adopt laws requiring chain restaurants to include nutritional information on menus, Congress has been considering proposals for a national menu-labeling law. This week, members of Congress, the restaurant industry, and consumer groups reached agreement on a proposal that they hope to introduce this summer.

The compromise proposal would require restaurants that operate more than 20 stores nationwide to include calorie information on menus and menu boards, and to make “immediately available” detailed nutritional information, like fat, sodium, and sugar content, in written form. Calorie information would also be required on vending machines when the owner operates more than 20 machines.

The passage of state laws in New York City, California, and other states and cities have seen some chain restaurants begin posting nutritional information on store menus, but other restaurants still don’t even post the info online. According to one survey [PDF], 82% of New Yorkers polled said seeing the calorie counts on menus affected their orders.

The menu-labeling proposal has support from government officials, public health agencies, and other interested parties, including the strange bedfellows of Dunkin Donuts and Center for Science in the Public Interest. The measure is expected to be included as part of the health care legislation offered later this year.

(Photo: tokyohanna)