Calorie counts on the menu...for now
(via flickr.com's Penelope_CA)
Big chain restaurants must now start posting the number of calories in their dishes, an appeals court ruled yesterday, but their legal battle isnt over yet.
The New York State Restaurant Association had asked the court to halt the regulation requiring restaurants with 15 outlets nationwide -- about 10 percent of city eateries -- to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled the city could move forward with the new regulation. Meanwhile, the judges will consider the merits of the restaurant associations appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down the groups lawsuit challenging the calorie counts.
With today's decision, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, and the other big chains that haven't yet listed calories as required by the Health Code have run out of stalling tactics, said Thomas Frieden, city health department commissioner.
The health department said yesterday it will not seek fines until July 19 for restaurants in violation. An attorney for the restaurant association said the appeal would be decided before any fines would be levied against restaurants, noting some restaurants like Starbucks have already posted calorie counts.It is unclear if other restaurants will post the information before the appeal is heard.
They just have to decide on their own, said attorney Kent Yalowitz of the restaurant association.
Also yesterday, the appeals court said it wants the Food and Drug Administration to weigh in on whether its rules permit cities to force restaurants to display calorie counts, the Associated Press reported.
The city Board of Health passed the regulation in January, saying it could aid in decreasing obesity and diabetes cases by helping New Yorkers make informed decisions.
The restaurant association filed a lawsuit, arguing that many chain restaurants already post information voluntarily on tray liners and in other forms and forcing them to post caloric information on menu boards violated the First Amendment.