New York chain eateries must post calorie counts
By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York again sought to force fast food chains to display calorie counts on their menu boards on Tuesday after a federal judge quashed a similar proposal last year.
The rule affects restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide such as fast-food chains Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's but also casual dining chains such as Ruby Tuesday and IHOP Corp's Applebee's.
The city believes the new rule will be allowed because it subjects all restaurants with more than 15 locations to the same requirement while its previous rule only affected restaurants that were following voluntary federal nutritional labeling guidelines.
The Board of Health adopted the regulation in an attempt to combat obesity. The same board banned artery-clogging trans-fats from New York City restaurants in 2006 and smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003.
A regulation on posting calorie counts was adopted by the city in 2006 but thrown out by a federal judge in September because it overstepped federal guidelines on nutrition labeling.
"Obesity is the only major health problem in the country and in New York City that is getting worse rapidly," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.
The fast food industry opposes the measure, which is due to take effect on March 31, on the grounds it would overly complicate menus and provide little benefit to consumers.
"We support the concept of providing nutritional information for all the products we serve, and we already do that (on posters in restaurants and on the company Web site)," said Denny Lynch a spokesman Wendy's International, the No. 3 U.S. hamburger chain.
Lynch said the rule would confuse consumers who customize sandwiches with condiments and different kinds of meat.
Burger King, the second largest U.S. hamburger chain, already puts the information on posters in each restaurant.
McDonald's Corp., the largest hamburger chain in the world, puts nutritional information such as calories on some packaging and posts the information online.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)