San Francisco Mayor Signs Menu Labeling Bill
Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan
March 26, 2008
No one expects to learn the price of your restaurant meal by checking online in advance or by finding out only after you've ordered. And at chain restaurants, where menu items are so carefully calibrated and standardized, it would be easy for chains to put calories right on menu boards and even more nutrition information on printed menus. That's why residents of and visitors to San Francisco owe a debt of gratitude to the Board of Supervisors for passing a common-sense menu labeling ordinance, and to Mayor Gavin Newsom for signing it last night.
It's not a magic bullet, and cities, states, and the federal government still need to do much more to help Americans prevent obesity and diet-related disease. Giving people key nutrition information at chain restaurants--where Americans are consuming more and more of their calories--will be a huge help to those of us who want to make healthful choices for ourselves and our families.
San Francisco now joins New York City, which goes into effect March 31, 2008, and Washington State's King County, which includes Seattle, in passing menu labeling requirements. We hope that these bold city and county steps inspire states to enact menu labeling laws statewide. In particular, we hope San Francisco's move prompts Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to reconsider his unfortunate veto of a statewide bill in California. Menu labeling policies would pass easily if the restaurant industry stopped its aggressive lobbying to keep this important health information from their customers.
It's hard to imagine that not many years ago, packaged foods in the supermarket did not have to bear the standardized, easy-to-read Nutrition Facts labels. We're optimistic that twenty years from now, it will be hard to believe that calorie counts were confined to web sites and tray liners, and absent from menus and menu boards.