NEW YORK The New York State Restaurant Association has filed suit against New York City, claiming the city’s health department had overstepped its authority late last year when it ruled that some restaurant chains must list calorie counts on menus and menu boards.
In December the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene passed a regulation requiring that restaurants already offering calorie information on the Internet, food wrappers, tray liners or in brochures must list the information on menus and menu boards. New menus containing calorie contents must be in place by July 1. At the time, the department also ruled that the city’s 24,000-plus foodservice operations have until July 1, to switch to oils, margarines and shortenings that contain less than 0.5 grams of artificial trans fat per serving.
Rick Sampson, NYSRA’s president and chief executive, said the association is hoping to get a temporary injunction that will halt the implementation of the menu-labeling regulation. “The bottom line is, we’re tired of government dictating to the industry what we can do and what our customers can eat,” he said. “It affects chains today, but it will affect mom and pop operators tomorrow. This is bureaucracy at its worst.”
Sampson said the association also is battling similar legislation in the state legislature in Albany, N.Y., where lawmakers are trying to expand the New York City regulations throughout the entire state.
Philadelphia’s City Council also passed a similar regulation in 2007 that bans artificial trans fats from restaurants and mandates menu labeling.
Earlier this year Wendy’s International and White Castle had attempted to exempt themselves from the ruling by removing nutritional information from their New York City stores. White Castle also removed the information from its website.