Calling all Californians! Come get your menu labeling on!

There are two bills currently in the California State Legislature about food labeling. One, AB 2572 is sponsored by the restaurant industry, while the other, SB 1420 is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and consumer groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Hm. Which do you think best represents your needs?

AB 2572 allows restaurants to provide nutrition information much as they do now, on tray liners, with pamphlets and online, but NOT on menus or menu boards where consumers are more likely to see it BEFORE they make their food purchases.

If you knew that the burrito you were about to order had 1,100 calories before you ordered it because the number was right there on the menu, would you still order it?

SB 1420 is a reintroduction of a bill vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who must have been mightily conflicted given his ties to both business and health. State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys) co-authored the bill, which requires restaurant chains of 15 or more outlets to include calorie information on the menu, and to make more information like saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium available on the spot. The bill would take effect July 1, 2009.

You vote with your food dollars every day, but if you knew more about what you were eating and made better decisions as a result, restaurants would listen. They’re in the business of selling food. When McDonald’s wasn’t doing well financially and sensed that people wanted healthier choices, they introduced some. And now that the economy is tanking, they’re introducing chicken on a biscuit for breakfast as comfort food. See?

So what should you do? You should write to your local legislator and kick up some dirt about it if you’d really like to know what you’re eating. Take a minute and click this link to find out very quickly who represents your district (it might be helpful to know anyway, huh?). From there you can link to legislators’ individual sites and hit “contact me” to ask them to vote for SB 1420.

Or, use this link from the American Cancer Society to write a very, very quick email.

You could also write to Arnold and gently suggest that he not veto the bill this time.

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One response to “Calling all Californians! Come get your menu labeling on!

  1. It’s true that presenting customers with nutrition information at the point of purchase will have a greater impact on their buying decisions than if it is presented elsewhere. But it seems as though restaurants aren’t quite ready. As with any mandate, baby steps are in order. Maybe the CRA-supported bill will be a stepping stone to the Padilla bill? Whatever the outcome, restaurants have resources to help them; http://www.cookedapple.com, and other similar websites are great resources for restaurants to learn more about their local legislation.

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