CA restaurant chains to post calories

September 30, 2008 6:15:09 PM PDT
Chain restaurants in California will soon have to provide a calorie count for each item on their menus. Governor Schwarzenegger signed off on the law Monday saying it will help promote healthy eating.

Do you really want to know that your fajita chicken quesadilla has 1,800 calories or that a chicken your Ceasar salad packs more than 1,000?

Governor Schwarzenegger just signed a new law championed by State Senator Alex Padilla, requiring restaurants with 20 or more locations in California to post the calorie count of each dish. Brochures must have them by next July, and menu boards by 2011. Violators face fines of up to $500.

"Health and fitness are important to me and since I've taken office, I have waged a war on obesity and have promoted a healthy lifestyle," says Schwarzenegger.

Those often scary calorie counts are supposed to help diners think about their girth before ordering. The Centers for Disease Control says about a quarter of Californians are obese, meaning they are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

"In terms of the obesity epidemic, calories really is the most important piece of consumer information to provide consumers," says Harold Goldstein, CA Center for Public Health Advocacy.

We showed diners at a chain restaurant how many calories they just ate or ordered for lunch. Some went into sticker shock while others didn't care.

"I wouldn't eat it. At least I would think twice from ordering it," says Erika Montoya, diner.

"I just really don't need the Governor telling me what I should eat," says Julia, diner.

The California restaurant industry initially opposed the bill, but had to give in. Managers couldn't keep up with each county passing individual ordinances.

"Compliance issues. Liability issues. One state law that's uniform to us makes the most sense," says Jot Condie/CA Restaurant Association.

New York City already posts calories on menus, and studies show diners are eating, on average, 50 fewer calories because of it.

To help you with your healthier lifestyle, the Governor also signed a bill this past summer, making California the first state in the country banning trans fats from all restaurants beginning in 2010.


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