calories on menu, massachusettes calories on menu, fast food calories
Fast food chains such as McDonalds already
print calorie counts on menus in New York.

Massachusetts Mandates Calorie-Count Menus

May 15, 2009 07:30 AM
by Kate Davey
By the end of 2010, restaurant chains in Massachusetts with 20 or more locations in the state will have to post calorie counts for their dishes.

Calories Count on the Menu

In an effort to help make consumers aware of how many calories they are consuming, Massachusetts will require chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus by November 2010. Massachusetts’ Public Health Council approved the new regulation, and at least 5,300 restaurants will be affected by this change.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach told WBZ-TV that more than half of adults in Massachusetts are overweight or obese and he hopes that “providing this information will help our residents make more informed choices.”

The Boston Globe spoke with Dr. Barry Zuckerman of Boston Medical Center, who questions why school cafeterias are not also required to provide such information. “That makes no sense to me. To not have it in schools is a big, big omission,” Zuckerman said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of Americans are obese. Obesity is related to many health problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.

Background: U.S., U.K. both post calories

New York City, Philadelphia and the state of California either require or will require chains with a certain number of restaurants to post calorie counts on the menu.

A court overturned New York City’s first attempt in 2007 to institute calorie counts on menus; a revised version of the rule went into effect in 2008. The New York State Restaurant Association has tried to appeal the rule, arguing that restaurants should have the right to decide how they provide this information to consumers. The Consumerist blog suggested that restaurant patrons might not enjoy the extra information, either, particularly when they found out that some drinks at Starbucks have more calories than some burgers.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law on Sept. 30, 2008, that requires California restaurants to post calories by 2011. According to The Washington Post, he said at the time, “This legislation will help Californians make more informed, healthier choices by making calorie information easily accessible at thousands of restaurants throughout the state."

In January 2009, the British Food Standards Agency asked restaurant chains to voluntarily post calorie counts on menus.

The FSA is concerned about obesity in Britain: One in four Britons is overweight or obese and health officials hope calorie counts on menus will help consumers make better food choices.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines