TRENTON – The New Jersey Senate approved a bill to require chain retail food establishments to provide nutrition information for any food or beverage item listed on its menu by a vote of 22 to 16 yesterday.
“With obesity, hearth disease and diabetes on the rise, it is clear that we have a health crisis on our hands,” said Senator Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, a sponsor of the bill. “Requiring food chains to post nutritional information on their menus is by no means a cure-all solution, but it does recognize that consumers cannot make healthy choices if they are unaware of the content of the nutritional food they are ordering.”
The bill, S-2905, would direct restaurant with twenty or more locations in the state to print caloric values of the food on menus. The bill would also require that information on saturated and trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium content of food be provided to customers upon request.
Under the bill, a retail food establishment that fails to provide information would be liable for a civil penalty ranging from $50 to $100 for the first offense, and a penalty of $250 to $500 for the second or any subsequent offense.
“This bill would allow the residents of New Jersey to make better, educated choices about the food they eat,” said Senator Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, another sponsor of the bill. “We need to do something to help improve our health and knowing what are options are when it comes to the food we eat will go a long way to improving our quality of life.”
Vitale noted that New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Philadelphia have passed similar laws, and New York, in particular found that printed calorie information on menus had changed eating habits.
Restaurant owners who oppose the bill argue that it is more expensive and unnecessary government regulation.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
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