by Marion Nestle
Sep 11 2007

Judge Strikes Down NYC Calorie Labeling, Sort Of

Without having to get into First Amendment issues, a federal judge agrees with the National Restaurant Association that New York City may not require fast-food restaurants that already have nutrition information available to post information about the calories in their products on menu boards. BUT: the judge also says that cities and states certainly can require calorie labeling as long as the rules apply to all chain restaurants with 10 or more outlets whether or not they make nutrition information available voluntarily. Good news? Will this encourage more cities to pass such rules? Can’t wait to see.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal has to say about this. And the New York Times.

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  • Fentry

    The judge’s decision as explained by the NY Times and the WSJ seemed fair and logical to me–and I admit to being someone who routinely checks nutrition information where it is available and has not gone to a fast food outlet in some time.

    The law appears to have been badly drafted. Because it would only apply to restaurants that provide the information voluntarily, enforcing the law seems like it would produce the opposite of the law’s intent: making information more readily available. A simple “way out” would be to stop the disclosure that apparently people aren’t seeking out anyway. (Personally, it is somewhat pointless, because it’s basically all trash food anyway and people really do know this).

    Secondly (whatever their motive) I have to agree with the argument industry’s council used: simply listing one measure of health–calories–is misleading. It gives people a far too simplistic picture of “health.” People should get the calorie measure, but they should get other measures too which allow them to perform a better evaluation. The menu board is probably not the best venue. However, a pamphlet or wrapper space or some other platform would be helpful.