Tuesday, November 04, 2008

WSJ: Restaurants Prep For Rules On Menu Data

“While federal menu-labeling standards would unify a hodgepodge of local and state ordinances, restaurant operators will confront issues including costs associated with redesign and installation, overcrowded menu listings and customers coming face-to-face with their caloric intake before ordering.

Congressional leaders recently introduced the Labeling Education and Nutrition, or Lean, Act that would create a uniform standard requiring restaurants and grocery chains with more than 20 locations that serve prepared food to post calories on menus and menu boards.

Several national chains and the industry's largest trade group have thrown their weight behind the bill. Yum Brands Inc. has said it would voluntarily post calories on menu boards at company-owned restaurants by 2011.

The federal legislation follows similar menu-labeling laws passed in California, New York City and other places in recent months.

While some restaurant operators oppose additional regulation, having one standard for their menus and menu boards would solve a major concern: having different variations of laws aimed at providing nutritional information to customers.

"Imagine running a national chain and having 30 or 50 different menu-disclosure requirements," said Dennis Lombardi, a restaurant consultant with WD Partners. "Having to create space and produce these variations would become a nightmare." . . .

In New York, which passed a law requiring calorie counts to be displayed more prominently, consumers have changed their consumption habits. According to a survey by restaurant research firm Technomic Inc., most customers are either buying lower-calorie alternatives or cutting out certain items altogether.

Calorie-disclosure laws could have the most negative impact on casual-dining chains. Diners may be more aware that fast-food chains have a bevy of high-calorie meal options, but may be surprised to learn how many calories are in some casual-dining offerings, according to Buckingham Research Group analyst Mitchell J. Speiser.

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/Beef_Content.asp?contentid=258645

3 comments:

Rick Tannenbaum said...

This is a half-truth: "The federal legislation follows similar menu-labeling laws passed in California, New York City and other places in recent months."

The legislation does not follow similar laws in NYC and CA, it is designed to preempt those laws and render them null and void.

The point of the LEAN Act is to enable restaurants to post calorie information in place OTHER THAN the menus and menu boards. It permits them to hide information in menu supplements and signs other than the menu board.

This is an exanmple of industry trying to self-regulate for its own advantages. The MEAL Act, also pending, would be more like NYC and CA and preserve local options for more stringent disclosure laws.

Rick
http://www.foodrecalls.blogspot.com

Sheila said...

With America’s growing health and obesity problems, it is important that more consumers have access to more detailed nutrition information, especially when dining out, in an easy and convenient way.

Now we have the chance to provide consumers across the country exactly what they are looking for and need. There is a bill before Congress, the LEAN Act (Labeling Education and Nutrition) that will do just that. It is modeled after the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) that provides consumers nutrition information on packaged food and beverages.

But calories are just part of the information necessary to make smart food choices. Consumers should know about a broad range of nutrition information, including sodium, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates and protein as well as calories.

That is why the LEAN Act will require that restaurants have detailed nutrition information—such as calories, transfats, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, carbohydrates, sugars, and protein—available in writing in the restaurant. Using one national standard will help consumers get the same information wherever they happen to dine across the country. It will also give restaurants the flexibility to present written nutrition information in an easy and convenient manner that best meets the individual needs of their diners.

Passing the LEAN Act to establish a uniform national nutrition standard for chain food service establishments that also provides the flexibility to accommodate their inherently different needs is practical and fair. And it is the one way to make sure that more consumers get more nutrition information no matter where they dine.

Now we need Congress to pass the LEAN Act. And we need your help to get it done.

Please visit www.nationalnutrionstandards.com to get more information and help us bring more nutrition information to everyone across the country.

-Sheila Weiss, RD, Director, Nutrition Policy, National Restaurant Association

Sheila said...

CORRECTION TO THE LINK PROVIDED IN MY PREVIOUS COMMENT:
Please visit http://www.nationalnutritionstandards.com to get more information and help us bring more nutrition information to everyone across the country.

-Sheila Weiss, RD, Director, Nutrition Policy, National Restaurant Association