New York City is about to feel even more crowded as restaurants will soon be required to post copious and dense nutritional information – including calorie counts – on menus and menu boards.
Only chain stores (with 15 or more locations nationally) will be required to comply with the rules, but that includes supermarkets like Whole Foods, which does a significant prepared food business, and quick service markets like 7-Eleven.
By August, the restaurants and markets will need to post caloric measurements including the daily recommended caloric intake (2,000 calories), similar to what’s posted on food labels. Businesses that fail to adhere to the rules by the August 21 deadline could face fines, though they're not significant; the maximum fine would be $600 per violation.
New York became the first city to require chain restaurants to provide calorie labeling in 2008, and previous mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted (unsuccessfully) to ban the sale of excessively large sugary-sweetened sodas and soft drinks in the city, a move that earned significant pushback from the soda industry.
The new regulations come as two-thirds of adult Americans are either overweight or obese – an issue that’s tied to numerous unhealthy habits including the excessive consumption of junk and fast food as well as sodas and sweetened beverages. But the nation’s obesity crisis is also linked to inadequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and the CDC’s five cups a day recommendation.
While the new rules in New York City won’t require restaurants to increase the presence of vegetables or fruit in their offerings, the hope is that it will provide a “knowledge is power” approach for New Yorkers and encourage healthier eating in general.
“We are all tempted to make unhealthy choices, but with these new, common-sense rules, New Yorkers will have the information to make better choices and lead healthier lives,” Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “We can no longer wait for federal action, and urge other cities to follow our lead.”
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