Friday, May 15, 2009

Massachusetts approves calorie labeling measure

Massachusetts joined New York and California passing legislation to provide consumers the calorie information for the food they are purchasing at food establishments.

From the HHS press release:
Food establishments with 20 or more locations in Massachusetts will be required to provide that information at the point of purchase ― either on the menu board or on the restaurant’s menu. The new rules, which will take effect in November 2010, will cover approximately 50 chain restaurant companies, representing more than 5,000 locations in Massachusetts. An 18-month implementation timeline will allow local health departments and the industry the opportunity to familiarize themselves and prepare for the new regulation.
While more research needs to be done, preliminary research shows that providing consumers with calorie information does effect choice. A literature review by Harnack and French, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2008, showed that five out of six studies provided some evidence consistent with the hypothesis that calorie information may influence food choices in a cafeteria or restaurant setting. They claim, however, the results "suggest the effect may be weak or inconsistent."

Again, from the HHS press release:
Health regulations like the one passed today are popular with consumers. A study conducted in February 2009, gauging reaction to New York City’s calorie labeling law, showed that of those who visited restaurants with posted information, 89% considered it a positive change — and 82% report that nutritional information on menus had made an impact of their ordering.

The measure adopted today is part of Mass In Motion, a wide-ranging statewide initiative to promote a range of wellness activities for Massachusetts residents, businesses and communities. Last month, the Public Health Council also passed regulations allowing for Body Mass Index measurements for all school children in Massachusetts.

Additionally, health officials will soon announce grants for communities to establish wellness initiatives at the local level. These efforts, combined with an expanded state-sponsored Workplace Wellness program and an interactive web site (, represent the most comprehensive effort to date to deal with the serious problem of overweight and obesity in the Commonwealth.

The new regulation underwent a thorough public review process that included two public hearings and the submission of comments from more than 100 individuals and groups. More information at
On a national note, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn have introduced the Menu Education and Labeling Act (MEAL) geared at chains with 20 or more outlets. The restaurants would be required to post calories on menu boards and food displays. In addition, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium would be required on printed menus. The house version of the bill (HR 2426) has 34 cosponsors and is in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The senate bill (S 1048) has three cosponsors and is in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

1 comment:

jhoncena said...
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