Menu Labeling Bill Clears Key Hurdle in California

Health Advocates Urge Passage in Assembly

August 30, 2007

A bill that would require nutrition information on menus in chain restaurants in California cleared a key legislative hurdle today, passing in the state Assembly’s appropriations committee. SB 120, which passed the full state Senate in June, would require chain restaurants to list calories on menu boards and calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium, and carbohydrates on printed menus. Health advocates are urging passage of the bill when it comes before the full Assembly in early September.

“Californians, and indeed all Americans, deserve to know what they’re getting when they’re ordering food at chain restaurants,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. “A Double Whopper with Cheese has as many calories in Sacramento as it does in San Diego. Why not make that information available when people are making their decisions?”

More than 20 state and local legislatures are considering menu labeling proposals. New York City and King County (Seattle), WA, recently adopted menu labeling requirements. In New York City, chains such as Subway, Johnny Rockets, and Auntie Anne’s are now using easy-to-read menu boards that include calories, though the restaurant industry is challenging the requirement in federal court. CSPI designers recently photoshopped a Wendy’s menu board to show that chain how easily calories can be displayed.

“I hope the full Assembly will move quickly to pass SB 120 and make California the first state in the nation to provide menu labeling at chain restaurants," Wootan said.

Americans are eating out more and more in restaurants and are not getting the kind of information that is readily available on packaged foods’ Nutrition Facts labels. Such information can literally be lifesaving for people who are trying to treat or prevent weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, according to CSPI.


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