The Indiana House Bill on menu-labeling passed with a vote of 51-46 this week. The bill will be assigned to a Senate committee before likely moving on to the Senate for a final vote.
HB 1207 would require chain restaurants with more than 20 units in Indiana to place calorie and carbohydrate data on menus or menu boards by July. These restaurants would also be required to make available to customers data on fat content, trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, protein and sugar.
While research does show that this information helps diners make healthier choices about what they eat, it does not take into consideration the significant costs these restaurant would incur in order to comply with the law.
If you assume an average menu board costs $300, an Indiana restaurant with only 20 units could be forced to spend as much as $6000; for a chain such as Taco Bell, which has hundreds of units across the state, that cost could soar into the tens of thousands.
In this already difficult time for restaurants, the National Restaurant Association is lobbying for a single, consistent, national nutrition labeling standard offering restaurants both the flexibility to provide nutritional data in a way that makes sense to its customers; and that also protects these restaurants from frivolous lawsuits.
According to the NRA, the Labeling Education and Nutrition (LEAN) Act would expand current packaged food labeling law to require a uniform national nutrition labeling standard for chain foodservice establishments, while providing a reasonable range of flexibility for the restaurant. While the LEAN Act would require a uniform national nutrition standard, the law also would provide for a single set of guidelines in how nutrition information is calculated and will provide legal protection for those restaurants that abide by the law.
Find out what your state is doing with nutrition labeling legislation; and write your local representatives and tell them how you feel.