Assembly Approves Task Force Legislation to Require Calorie Posting on Menus and Ban the Use of Artificial Trans Fats
Measures empower consumers to make healthier choices
Albany - Assemblyman José Rivera (Bronx), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy was pleased to join with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz today to announce passage of legislation aimed at helping New Yorkers eat healthier and live longer. The bills require chain restaurants to post calorie information on chain restaurant and food establishment menus and prohibit restaurants from serving foods containing artificial trans fats. Both measures were developed several years ago by the Task Force and Assemblyman Rivera is a co-sponsor of the bills with sponsor Assemblyman Ortiz.
"My Task Force works to improve the nutritional health of New Yorkers. I have successfully fought for more founding for diabetes programs and outreach for government nutrition programs. However, in many of our communities, especially low-income neighborhoods, it is difficult for families to find healthy foods. Many of the restaurants found in these neighborhoods are chains. One way to help families improve their diets and their health is to provide them with information such as calories so they can make better choices," said Rivera.
Under the legislation (A.2720), restaurants with at least fifteen outlets in the United States would be required to post calorie values for menu items as they are usually prepared and offered. The information must be available on standard print menus, menu boards or drive-through signs, and on food item tags or labels for foods that are displayed for sale. The Task Force worked with both health advocates and business to pass a reasonable bill. The measure is already in place in NYC, and Westchester, Ulster and Suffolk Counties.
The second measure (A.6359) aims to protect consumers from artificial trans fats often used in restaurants and other food establishments. Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in New York State, accounts for 45% of all deaths and is even worse among Hispanics, African -Americans and Upstate populations. Trans fat has such a negative effect on cholesterol that it is considered to be even worse than saturated fat. The federal government recommends that consumption of trans fat be "as low as possible." The ban applies to restaurants, prepared foods in grocery and convenient stores, mobile food trucks and carts, and other locations that sell prepared food to the public. The legislation is phased in, first for frying foods, and then a year and a half for baking to allow bakers to develop recipes using products with no artificial trans fat.
According to Rivera, "The trans fat ban is already in place in NYC and several other counties. We are extending it to all New Yorkers to help prevent heart disease and the billions of dollars of medical costs associated with these health problems. My Task Force will continue to develop policies that promote good nutrition and reduce nutrition-related illness and health care costs."