Obesity activists claim that mandatory menu labeling is all about a “right” to information, denying that these measures are a subversive attempt to control our food choices through shame. But by forcing restaurants to cover their menus with inescapable calorie-counts, food cops hope consumers will be too embarrassed to order the meals they want. Now there’s a bill in California that would deliver all the information without any of the guilt. And guess what? The food cops aren’t happy.
While radical activist groups are trying to disparage the measure, CCF is working to ensure that Californians know the truth. In the past week the San Jose Mercury News, the Bakersfield Californian, the Monterey County Herald, and the Eureka Reporter all featured our menu labeling message:
This previously vetoed labeling mandate aims to reduce dietary health to a single statistic (calories) in a single format (plastered across menu boards). By excluding all nutrition information except a calorie tally from our immediate consideration, Sen. Padilla’s bill, which cleared the Senate Health Committee in late March, perpetuates the myth that calories are all that count. But it’s not that simple. Our nutrition needs depend on our age, gender, height, medical status, daily schedule, activity level, likes, dislikes and more.
Beyond individual nutrients, our diet has much broader social and cultural contexts. One infamous study done a few years ago found that, when given the exact same food, people who enjoyed a meal absorbed more nutrients than those who did not.
And by eliminating the ability to enjoy a dinner without government-sponsored shame, state legislators would be taking pleasure off the menu.
Luckily, Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Bakersfield, has a solution for all of this: consumer choice. She has introduced alternative legislation (AB 2572) to ensure that consumers have access to a surplus of information without having it thrust in their faces.
Parra’s bill accomplishes the stated goal of menu labeling advocates – making nutritional information available at restaurants – while simultaneously accounting for consumers’ individual preferences and needs. Her bill allows restaurants to provide such information in a variety of ways, such as through brochures, posters, tray liners, food wrappers, electronically and kiosks.
We expect our food made to order. The food’s nutritional information should be no different.