Friday, November 14, 2008

Philadelphia Passes Tough New Labeling Requirements for Chain Restaurant Menus, Rejects LEAN Act Leniency

Beginning January 1, 2010, chain restaurants in Philadelphia will have to disclose calorie counts on menu boards, and calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium and carbohydrates on printed menus. Chain restaurants include convenience stores, delis, bakeries, cookie counters, ice cream shops and coffee shops that have 15 or more establishments doing business under the same trade name.

Philadelphia joins New York City, Portland, Seattle, Westchester County, NY and the state of California in mandating some form of chain restaurants disclosures.

Download the resolution here [PDF].

The Philadelphia resolution is unique in efforts to include more than just fast food outlets and traditional chain restaurants, and in its applicability to delivered food. Chain restaurants making deliveries to homes and offices in Philadelphia will have to provide nutritional information as though the food was purchased in the restaurant.

With similar laws pending in Rockland County, NY, Nashville, TN and other municipalities, there is a growing national movement toward mandated menu disclosure.

Not one single municipality has adopted legislation similar to the LEAN Act, a restaurant-industry written, watered-down version of the law currently pending in Congress. The LEAN Act’s intent is to render local laws null and void, and to permit calorie disclosures in locations where restaurant patrons are unlikely to see them. The LEAN Act is bad law intended to derail consumer protection entities from putting meaningful nutritional information in front of consumers, and to deprive consumers of real and informed choice in their purchase of calorie-laden fast and/or processed foods.

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