Yesterday, the Rules Committee for the Board of Supervisors heard testimony from both sides regarding the proposed ordinance that would require chain stores to disclose health information (including calorie counts) directly on menus. Here are the arguments for both sides:
Con: Tiffing with the city once again are the restaurant associations. This time, the California Restaurant Association is the biggest opponent, though they are opposed because they say they'd like it to be implemented on a statewide scale. Meanwhile, the GGRA took a back seat and continues to hope that they'll be able to cut a deal. According to an ABC7 report, the GGRA's desire is to list only calorie counts, but in all restaurants, because nothing says elegant like looking down at the menu at say, Michael Mina, and seeing a calorie count for the lobster pot pie.
Pro: The proposal is the brainchild of Supervisor Tom Ammiano, whose reasoning that such a law would prevent obesity in an already-unhealthy society. From an opinion piece in the Chron: "Chain restaurants are a reasonable focus of the mandate because they have standardized menus, thus making it easier for them to analyze and distribute the nutritional information. As with any meaningful public health initiative, it is most effective to start where it is feasible and carries the most impact."
The upshot of yesterday's meeting was that the initial proposal would be amended and decision would be made on February 28th. The amended proposal, straight from the Board of Supes, follows:
Amendments to Current Law· S.F. supervisor fights obesity [ABC7]
The proposed amendment would do the following:
1. Adopt a new statement of purpose and legislative findings. [Sections 468, 468.1]
2. Eliminate the existing definition of "fast food establishment" and apply the nutrition
disclosure requirements to "chain restaurants" defined as a restaurant that offers for
sale substantially the same menu Items, and either: (1) operates under common ownership or control with at least 14 or more restaurants in California; or (2) operates as a franchised outlet of a parent company with at least 14 or more franchised outlets in California, or (3) shares the same name with at least 14 or more franchised outlets in California. [Section 468.2]
3. Require chain restaurants to post the calorie content of each menu item directly on
menu boards and food tags. [Section 468.3(c), (d)]
4. Require chain restaurants to post the amount of calories, saturated fat, carbohydrates
and sodium for each menu item directly on menus. [Section 468.3(b)]
· Menu labeling will help San Franciscans lighten up [Chron]
· IndustryWire: Calorie Counting Comes to Town [~ESF~]