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If passed, the policy would only apply to restaurants that serve standard portions and already disclose calorie information on fliers or websites. Most fast-food chains are included in the proposed regulation, and New York officials estimate that the policy would apply to roughly one out of every 10 restaurants.
Fast-food restaurants are opposed to the proposal, claiming it would penalize restaurants that already voluntarily disclose nutrition information -- though not on menus.
John Whipple, president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants, called the proposal costly and possibly unconstitutional. In written testimony submitted to the New York City Board of Health, Whipple said, "Restaurants should be encouraged in their health education efforts, not dissuaded from such effort by misplaced regulatory policies."
However, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said diners have a right to know what foods could contribute to potentially harmful weight gain.
Consumer Advocate Mike Adams, creator of "The Honest Food Guide," said restaurants oppose calorie disclosure on menus because most consumers would be "utterly shocked" to learn how fattening their favorite restaurant foods are.
"This effort by the restaurant industry to keep the public ignorant of fundamental nutritional facts is nothing more than an attempt to protect their business interests at the expense of public health," Adams said.
The New York City Board of Health is set to vote on the proposal in December. If passed, the new policy would go into effect in July 2007.