Maine and New York have been considering legislation that would mandate nutrition labeling on menus and menu boards. And now a bill introduced by a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives would go even further.
All Texas restaurants with three or more in-state locations would be affected, including both fast-food outlets and fine dining restaurants. If the bill should become law, menus in the Lone Star State would have to include detailed nutrition information for every food item. Before they could order a pulled pork sandwich (or pheasant under glass), Texans dining out would have to wade through warnings about calorie counts; the percentage of calories from fat; and precise gram totals for fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, dietary fiber, and protein.
Finding the actual food offerings amidst that sea of statistics would become a “Where’s Waldo?”-style adventure. But it would be easy to spot the warning labels on foods that get more than one-third of their calories from fat. The dire warning “Eating Fatty Foods May Lead to Obesity” may soon appear on Texas menus in a font size bigger than anything else on the page.
The Texas bill says that “a chain restaurant owner or employee commits an offense if they [sic] knowingly serve a food item for which nutritional value information is not posted.” So forget about daily specials. If this bill passes, a chef could spend 30 days in the slammer for forgetting to use the eyedropper when ladling out the soup. After all, a slightly larger portion would mean that accurate “nutritional value information is not posted.”
Want your sandwich without the mayo? Prefer your salad dressing on the side? If the food police get their way, you can forget about it.