House Healthcare Bill Includes Menu Labeling

November 2/Washington/States News Service -- The health care bill introduced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) includes general nutritional labeling requirements for retail and restaurant chains with 20 or more units, Nation's Restaurant News reports.

The nearly 2,000-page bill includes rules that would make restaurants post caloric information for standard menu items, including calories per serving for each item on a buffet, cafeteria line, salad bar or self-service kiosk. Standard menu items mean those offered at least two months per calendar year; daily specials, special orders and test market dishes would not be included if on the menu for less than three months.

Also, restaurants would have to publish a short statement about daily caloric intake "designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the nutrition information that is provided." Retailers would have to make additional nutritional data available when asked.

Restaurant industry officials have lent support to a similar Senate bill because a national nutritional labeling law is preferable to state and local regulations. "We're very pleased that the nutrition information provision continues to garner bipartisan support, and we're pleased that the agreement is now moving forward in the House of Representatives," said Mike Donohue, vice president of media relations for the National Restaurant Association.

From the November 9, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition