Friday, November 7, 2008

Restaurants Oppose What Will Likely Be The Nation's Toughest Calorie Disclosure Law

At last night's public meeting, restaurant representatives vocally opposed Nashville’s proposed calorie count disclosure law. Restaurant owners and trade associations have mastered all the talking points of the National Restaurant Association, and whined the following: (1) “They want to post calories, just not on the actual menu board or menu.” (2) “The measure will put restaurants out of business, or deter restaurants from opening in Nashville.” (3) “The costs are more than restaurants can manage in these hard economic times.” and, (4) Restaurants will close and jobs will be lost.”

The proposal is the toughest in the nation, and it would likely apply not just to the 500 or so fast food and chain restaurants in Davidson County, but also to Nashville’s public schools, its chain movie theaters, and supermarkets that serve prepared foods on site. The proposal is written very broadly and defers to state definitions for its applicability to "covered food service establishments."

Restaurant owners and trade associations are hoping for passage of the LEAN Act, pending federal legislation that would preempt all state and local menu board disclosure laws, and enable restaurants to post calorie information in menu supplements or on other signs. Also pending is the federal MEAL Act which mirrors NYC's menu law and would preserve similar and more restrictive local and state laws.

Board members voted to extend the deadline to Dec. 6 for public comment. The board will vote on the measure at its February meeting.

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