Nutritional labeling coming soon to a restaurant near you

The health care bill that was recently passed has many, many cost control measures. Pretty much anything that anybody has suggested (tort reform being an obvious exception) is in the bill. They won't all work, but some of them will.

One of the ideas is that if restaurants post nutrition information, restaurants will be forced to use healthier ingredients because their customers will be able to do comparisons. The theory is that this will lead to better public health, and thus lower health care inflation (the link is from 2003: it took this health reform bill to make it law). The theory itself is debatable -- one study found that many customers will order the high-calorie items under a mistaken belief that they are a better deal. However, many more studies with larger samples have found that people eat healthier because of nutritional labels on processed foods. Any how, restaurants have to post calorie counts for all their meals. Who knows? It might make us healthier and bring health costs down. The cost to a restaurant chain? $200 per menu item. Peanuts in other words (Restaurants with fewer than 20 locations are exempted).

A very simple reform, right? Restaurants have to post the nutritional value of their meals and what percentage the fat content (for example) is of the USDA daily recommendation. Well, this is how the actual law looks. This is because all laws amend earlier laws. Laws are extremely hard to read, so the right-wing demagoguery against bills that are thousands of pages long is quite disingenuous.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing nutritional labels at restaurants soon.

P.S. The National Restaurant Association is in favor. They'd rather have a national law than deal with a California law and a New York law each of which is different -- another example of how the Democrats bought off every interest group in advance.

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