Is it depressing, ironic, or depressingly ironic that freedom-phobic food police are trying to hijack the birthplace of American democracy? Yesterday, Philadelphia’s City Council held its first public hearing on legislation that would require restaurants to list nutrition information next to food items on their menus and menu boards.
Testimony from the bill’s sponsor, councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was notable only because it was completely unoriginal. Brown employed a strategy that’s become ubiquitous among legislators pushing government menu control: List lots of scary-sounding statistics supposedly indicating the “declining health” of the American public, repeatedly imply that your average constituent has the IQ of a fruit fly, and never provide anything remotely resembling proof that menu labeling laws make people healthier.
Fortunately, the skeptics got a chance at the microphone as well. Of note: Restaurant proprietor Hank Liberman, who convincingly argued that labeling requirements would expose restaurants to costly lawsuits, from "customers who may have gotten a gram or two more carbs from an overly zealous cook trying to make a meal taste good."
Good point. And as we’ve said before, people don’t need labels to determine the nutritional profile of their meals. Good ol’ common sense is more than sufficient. As one indignant local told yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, when you walk into a donut shop, "you know when you’re going in what you’re going to get. And it isn’t fat free."