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IndustryWire: Calorie Counting Comes to Town

The city has certainly been busy with restaurant regulations lately. Already in this new year, we've had the health care bill, the voluntary trans fat program and a proposed liquor license ban in North Beach. This week's item? Forcing chains to list nutritional information on menus:

[The bill] will: "(1) require chain restaurants to provide, per standard menu item, the total number of calories on menu boards and food tags, and the total amount of calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates and sodium on menus; and (2) revise existing requirements for providing nutritional information on alternative disclosure media."
On the surface, the Board of Supes' bill appears to be a good move, as pro-health and anti-chains are pretty much shoe-ins for gaining support in San Francisco. However, a piece in the Sunday Chron reveals the other side of the argument, from the point of view of smaller, local chains like Extreme Pizza that argue that the law will turn their menus into Excel spreadsheets:
[Extreme Pizza founder Todd] Parent, whose pizzeria concept was built on green sensibilities and fresh ingredients, made clear that he has no objection to providing his customers with nutrition information. But he questions whether diners really want or need a four-part nutrition evaluation with each pizza combination, which would turn his one-page menu into a multi-page brochure. He said he gets "maybe a handful of requests a year" for such details...

Fairness arguments do not always carry the day at City Hall, but it must be noted that Chevys customers will be staring at the waistline impact of ordering grilled steak tacos (972 calories, 16 fat grams, 2,040 milligrams of sodium) while patrons at the vast majority of San Francisco's restaurants will continue to consume fat-richened, salt-laden dishes in ignorant bliss.

Both Parent and John Diaz, the article's author, make the argument that the point that it's not whether or not nutritional information is important—it is—but the debate involves how and where to display such info. A similar regulation is currently in effect (and under litigation) in New York, with others in Seattle, Santa Clara and elsewhere slated to be enacted soon.
· City to start menu planning instead of job creation... [The Snitch]
· What's not on the menu [Chron]

Your thoughts on menu regulations are very much encouraged. Should chains be forced to display nutritional information? Should all restaurants?

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