Thursday, May 7, 2009

Maine's Restaurants Hide Behind Costs to Avoid Calorie Disclosure

Source: From Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Representatives of Maine's restaurant industry say a proposal to require restaurants to post the number of calories in their offerings on their menus and menu boards will cost the state's eateries thousands of dollars apiece.

At an Augusta news conference today, the Maine Restaurant Association came out in oppostion to LD1259, which was up for a hearing on May 5, 2009 before lawmakers.

Dan Gore of Amatos says now is not the time to require expensive new mandates for restaurants. "The timing of this is poor in our view, as far as the additional cost that would be associated with us having to change all of our menu boards and lables and menus to comply," Gore told MPBN's Susan Sharon. He was unable to provide an estimate of how much it would cost the chain, but he said the expense would be borne by individual franchisees.

Dick Grotton of the Maine Restaurant Association says he's concerned about a "patchwork quilt of rules and regulations across the country." Grotton said he would prefer a federal measure now pending called the LEAN -- or Label Education and Nutrition -- Act. "We think a better way to go is to have federal legislation that wpuld make it the same for restaurants that have 15 or more in the country under the same name to follow the same rules everywhere they go," he said.

The federal proposal requires restaurants to make nutrition information available, but not necessarily on their menus and menu boards. The measure being considered in Maine is sponsored by House Speaker Hannah Pingree.

[Editor's Note: This is typical restaurant industry nonsense -- but they do have the presentation down quite well.]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rockland County, NY Takes Another Stab at Calorie Counts on Menu Boards

Rockland County Legislator Joseph L. Meyers has reintroduced a local law called the "National Food Service Establishments Calorie Posting Law. " Similar to legislation he introduced last year, the law, if passed, will largely mirror a similar and successful law in nearby Westchester County and New York City.

There is an abundance of speculation based on recent comments by Governor Patterson that New York may attempt again a state-wide version of a calorie posting law. If a state or federal law is passed, the Rockland law recognizes that it may be preempted, and permits a recognition of preemption by a mere resolution of the legislature. Such a resolution would render the local law void.

Efforts in Minneapolis/St. Paul to pass calorie posting laws have slowed as opponents to the law have cited the slumping economy and the added burdens to restaurants as reasons to delay passage.