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Menu Labeling Veto a "Giant, Greasy Stain" on Schwarzenegger Health Record

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

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This veto is a giant, greasy stain on the Governor’s health record.

By giving into lobbying by McDonald’s, Burger King, and other big restaurant chains, Governor Schwarzenegger has turned his back on the vast majority of Californians who want to know what they’re eating at chain restaurants. The menu labeling bill could have helped Californians avoid obesity, heart disease, and many other deadly diet-related diseases, all of which account for more and more of the state’s health dollars.

The Governor claims that restaurants are already providing nutrition information. But the truth is that half of chains don’t provide a single shred of nutrition information to their customers. The restaurants that do generally provide it on inconvenient websites, hard-to-find brochures, or tray liners that people don’t see until after they order.

You don’t see Burger King putting their food prices only on a website or poster near the restrooms. Nutrition information needs to be where other information about what to order is: on the menu or menu board.

Putting nutrition information on chain restaurant menus isn’t the sole answer to curbing the obesity epidemic. But given the link between eating out and obesity and the huge portions at restaurants, it’s needed to let Americans exercise personal responsibility for themselves and to raise healthy families.

The Governor is single handedly keeping Californians in the dark when it comes to restaurant nutrition. Without calories on menu boards, you might as well throw darts. People may order the tuna sandwich (720 calories) thinking it’s a better choice than the roast beef sandwich (560 calories) at a typical deli, or parents may not realize that the chicken tenders have 200 more calories than the ribs on the kids’ menu at Chili’s.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).