Santa Clara Co. fast food must post calories

June 3, 2008 8:14:37 PM PDT
Santa Clara County is fighting obesity. On Tuesday, county supervisors passed an ordinance that requires fast food restaurants to post calorie, fat, and nutritional information on the menu behind the register.

Fast food franchises in parts of Santa Clara County will soon have to post nutritional information in plain sight for their customers so that people will know what they're eating. Denise Cordingley has just joined Weight Watchers.

"It helps to know the little details calories grams of fat all that sort of stuff," says Cordingley, a fast food customer.

While nutritional information is important to Cordingley, Jim Ellison doesn't care.

"I'm here for the food. I don't care what the calories are," says Ellison, a fast food customer.

County Health Director, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, says everyone should care about calories and nutrition. Obesity is epidemic in California.

"California has gone from 15 percent of our population being obese or overweight, to over 25 percent of our state," Fenstersheib.

To fight obesity in the county, supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance requiring every restaurant and fast food franchise to post nutritional information on menus and menu boards like they now do on these in New York City. The ordinance only covers unincorporated Santa Clara County. The county's fifteen cities are not included.

County supervisors know their ordinance only affects a small number of chain restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county, but they're hoping this small push will be felt all the way to Sacramento.

State Senator Alex Padilla (D) from the San Fernando Valley, is sponsoring a bill this year which would require nutrition labeling on menus throughout the state.

"With Santa Clara County coming on the heels of San Francisco County, Los Angeles County, San Mateo County, other counties looking at it, only adds momentum that we need to be successful at the state level," says Padilla.

The California Restaurant Association says chains like Subway already make nutritional information available on sheets, brochures and online.

"Whether it's going to effectively reduce obesity rates, there is no study that I have seen like that," says Amalia Chamorro, a restaurant lobbyist.

After the ordinance goes into effect September 1, 2008, restaurants who don't comply will be fined $350 up to a $1,000 for the third offense.


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