Philadelphia Passes Strongest Nutrition Labeling Requirements for Chain Restaurant Menus

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

November 6, 2008

Philadelphia now joins New York City , several counties, and the state of California in passing a strong menu labeling requirement for chain restaurants. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, chain restaurants with more than 15 outlets will have to disclose calories on menu boards, and calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium and carbohydrates on printed menus. The measure passed today by the Philadelphia City Council is the strongest in the nation so far, and we hope it is used as a model for other jurisdictions.

There's no reason that consumers shouldn't see the nutritional price for what they're ordering as well as the financial price. While it's no magic bullet, menu labeling is an easy thing that cities, counties and states can do to help their citizens eat healthfully, manage their weight, and avoid diet-related disease. It's also a useful incentive to the restaurant industry to expand the number and variety of healthy choices on their menus.

We expect that the members of the incoming Congress and next Administration are taking note of the popularity of these low-cost menu labeling measures, which can help make a dent in the obesity epidemic and save valuable public health dollars. It now seems hard to believe that not long ago Nutrition Facts labels weren't required on food packages in the grocery store. Similarly, a few years from now, it will be hard to imagine that standardized nutrition information was absent from chain restaurant menus. Congratulations to the Philadelphia City Council, particularly councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown, for helping to lead the charge.


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