In April 2009, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sent out an e-mail to its supporters asking them to oppose the restaurant industry's Federal menu-labeling law, and support their stronger bill instead. Back then they said:
"The restaurant industry has its own restaurant labeling bill, the LEAN Act. That sham bill aims to distract members of Congress from meaningful menu labeling and would cancel out all existing state and local menu labeling policies."
Now it's November, and CSPI is pushing hard to pass federal menu labeling legislation once again. But this time the bill they're supporting contains the very policies that they were fighting against just 8 months ago.
The menu-labeling legislation currently in the House healthcare bill would cancel out all existing state and local menu labeling laws, and would prevent state and local government from passing stronger menu labeling legislation in the future. Only the federal government would have the power to amend the legislation.
This is exactly what the restaurant industry wants, but it's not what's best for us, the public! This bill would only require calories to be posted on menu boards and menus. Other information would be 'available on request'. If current restaurant nutrition policies are any indication, this means that information would be printed on a poster in a tiny font, and hidden in a far off corner of the restaurant, where customers are unlikely to venture. In order for menu-labeling to be effective all relevant nutrition information must be presented at the point of purchase!
While it's great that Congress is finally taking action to make restaurant menu-labeling mandatory nationwide, DC Voices for MEAL Choices feels that the federal bill should just be a minimum standard. State and local government should have the ability to implement and evaluate stronger policies to determine what works best for their communities. There's a lot more to nutrition than calories, and making consumers ask for that additional information is just not acceptable!
CSPI may feel that preemption is an acceptable compromise but we disagree. Tell CSPI and your representatives in Congress that you want preemption OUT of the federal bill. They knew preemption was wrong 8 months ago, ask them why they changed their minds.
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