NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 13, 2006

New York City is forcing some restaurants to list calories on menus by this summer -- part of a food-regulation package that will also eliminate trans fats in restaurant kitchens --  to help prevent obesity and the diseases that go along with it, says the New York Times.

The rule applies only to restaurants that have standardized recipes and that have made nutrition information publicly available on the Internet, printed brochures or other methods as of March 2007.

But for those companies, the new law presents logistical challenges:

  • Menu boards are already crowded with choices, and redesigning menus just for the New York market can be costly, people in the industry said.
  • Starbucks, for example, offers 87,000 drink combinations, depending on the kind of milk, amount of syrup and whether the drink has whipped cream; changing those to comply with the new law may prove daunting.

And while companies that offer several variations on one item can list a calorie range, there's is no telling how accurate the counts will be.  Even though most chains use standardized recipes, the hand of an over-eager cook might add more cheese or oil, throwing off the count.

As a result, some chain operators are already wondering if it would be easier to simply take down any publicly available nutrition information before the deadline, thus exempting themselves from the law, says the Times.

Source: Kim Severson, "New York Gets Ready to Count Calories," New York Times, December 13, 2006.

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