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Calif. restaurant chains required to list calories


Sacramento, Calif. — California is now the first state to
require restaurant chains to reveal how many calories are in their
standard menu items.

Sacramento, Calif. — California is now the first state to
require restaurant chains to reveal how many calories are in their
standard menu items.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed
legislation Tuesday that supporters say will give consumers the
information they need to order healthier dishes when they eat out and
will combat obesity, diabetes and other health problems related to
overeating.

"The way Californians order food is about to change,"
said the bill's author, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, at a bill-signing
ceremony.

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The new law initially gives chains with at least 20
restaurants in California a choice. Starting next July 1, they can
either list calorie counts on menus or menu boards, or they can provide
preprinted brochures disclosing the calories, fat, salt and
carbohydrates in the dishes and drinks offered during at least half the
year.

Beginning in 2011, the calorie counts in standard menu
items would have to be listed on menus and indoor menu boards.
Drive-through customers will have to be offered brochures providing
nutritional information about standard menu choices.

Schwarzenegger
vetoed a broader version of the bill last year that would have required
chains with at least 14 restaurants to list calories, fat, salt and
carbohydrates next to their standard menu offerings.

Restaurants
with just menu boards would have been required to post calorie counts
next to their standard offerings, providing written information about
fat, salt and carbohydrates only if customers requested it.

Schwarzenegger
said that bill was inflexible and inequitable and that many restaurants
were already providing nutritional information to customers "in a
variety of ways."

The National Council of Chain Restaurants said
it was disappointed that Schwarzenegger signed the bill, complaining
that the measure discriminated against larger chains. Eighty percent of
California restaurants wouldn't be covered by the bill, it said.

"What's
really needed is a consistent, uniform, nationwide standard so that
consumers from Florida to Alaska have a clear understanding of the
nutritional content of food in restaurants," the council's president,
Jack Whipple, said in a statement.

New York City, which banned
trans-fat-laden cooking oils from all restaurants last year, is
believed to be the first U.S. city to enact a regulation requiring
calories on menus. The calorie posting rule took effect in May, but
legal action delayed enforcement until July.