California Chain Restaurants Will List Calories

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A new law passed in California this week will require chain restaurants throughout the state to list calorie counts on menus and menu boards. While a similar measure went into effect in New York City this summer, this law will make California the first state in the nation to have such a requirement.

According to the new law, chains with at least 20 restaurants in California will be required to either post calorie counts on menus and indoor menu boards or provide customers with brochures listing nutrition facts (calories, fat, salt, and carbohydrate) starting July 1, 2009. Starting January 1, 2011, the restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

These requirements will affect over 17,000 restaurants. However, according to the National Council of Chain Restaurants, which opposed the bill, 80% of California restaurants will not be required to post calorie counts. The organization stated that the law discriminates against larger chains, and called for a uniform nationwide policy.

California State Senator Alex Padilla, who proposed the bill, said that it will empower customers to make “more informed, healthier choices” when eating out. The law was supported by the American Cancer Society and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

You can read about a similar measure undertaken in New York City in my previous blog entries “Proposed Trans Fat Ban and Calorie Listing Sparks Debate” and “Nation’s First Trans Fat Ban Approved.”

If you live in California, how do you feel about this new law? Do you think it will help you control your diabetes?

If you live in New York City, have you encountered calorie counts on menus recently? Have they affected your food choices?

Would you like to see measures like these go nationwide?

Share your thoughts on these topics with a comment below.

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