More nutrition info for restaurants in health care bill

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Praise came from the National Restaurant Association for passage of a provision of health care legislation that will provide more nutrition information to consumers in chain restaurants throughout the country. The rule was one component of health care legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Sunday and is expected to be signed into law March 23 by President Obama.

A national, uniform standard for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations was created by the agreement that would provide customers with a wide range of nutrition information -- mirroring the information available on packaged foods -- at the point of purchase. Caloric information would be highlighted on menus, menu boards and drive-thru boards.

"The passage of this provision is ‘a win’ for consumers and restaurateurs," said Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association president and chief executive officer. "We know the importance of providing consumers with the information they want and need, no matter in which part of the country they are dining. This legislation will replace a growing patchwork of varying state and local regulations with one consistent national standard that helps consumers make choices that are best for themselves and their families."

Several of the Senate and House members who were crucial in securing bipartisan support for the nutrition information language were recognized by Ms. Sweeney, including Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and House members Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

N.R.A. co-led an industry-wide coalition that worked proactively with stakeholders to provide an approach that gives consumers one more way to live a healthy lifestyle. The nutrition information provision was publicly supported by industry groups, health and consumer advocacy groups, as well as a bipartisan group of House and Senate members.

Enacting the national standard will negate the need for states and localities from pursuing their own legislation or regulations going forward.

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