Monday, February 26, 2007

NYC City Council May Change Menu Rule on Calories

In December 2006, the New York City Board of Health passed a measure that was largely overshadowed by another regulation which passed at the same time, the move to ban all but trace levels of trans fat oils in restaurant cooking. The rule would require that many restaurants in New York City be required to provide nutrition facts including calorie information on the items they serve. People with diabetes would potentially benefit from this rule, as it would make estimating nutritional content of some restaurant meals easier to quantify. Critics of the new rule have argued that it basically singles out restaurants that already provide nutritional information to their customers, as the rule applies only to restaurants that have standardized menus. In fact, some chains like McDonald's and Denny's already provide nutrition facts to customers who request it, while many other restaurants in the city do no such thing. But what really had the city's massive restaurant industry upset was the fact that it would require calorie totals to be posted next to each menu item in the same size print, which would make it costly and difficult to comply with.

Councilman Joel Rivera of the Bronx intends to introduce a bill this week that would allow restaurants to provide this information in brochures or on posters. Mr. Rivera, chairman of the Council's Health Committee, calls his bill a practical alternative, and more than a dozen council members have agreed to act as co-sponsors, he said.

The city's media-hungry health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said that he had not seen the proposed bill, but that he expected the Council to reject it.

"If you're going to post nutritional information, you need to put it where it would make a difference and where customers are going to recognize it," Dr. Frieden said.

Councilman Rivera responded by saying "It's a compromise. It brings to the table the No. 1 goal of informing the consumer, while not making it too expensive for the industry."

Backers are planning to hold a rally at City Hall on Wednesday with industry representatives to introduce the revised legislation. If anyone would like to contact the NYC Health Commissioner, I am providing contact information for him here:

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
New York City Health Commissioner
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
125 Worth St, Room 331
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 788-5261
Fax: (212) 964-0472

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this stuff is getting to be rediculous. Everyone by now should know what is healthy for them and what is not. The way this country has become the health conscious nation and the forcing of it to be so.. Banning Trans Fats, Banning Smoking In alcohol serving establishments and restaurants, and now they are wanting it banned in public parks. What is america coming to The land of the free as long as you don't do anything that is unhealthy for yourself?