Philadelphia menu law idea returns

April 3, 2008 3:33:45 PM PDT
A Philadelphia City Councilwoman is again pushing to put specific nutritional information on menus at chain restaurants. And restaurant owners are not happy.

Thumbing through a menu in Philadelphia could soon bring more choices, not on what to eat, but how many calories or fat grams you want to ingest.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has re-introduced a bill that would force any restaurant with more than 10 or more locations nationwide to list specific nutritional information on their menus.

Reynolds Brown told Action News, "that would include the number of calories, sodium, carbohydrates, and fats."

The bill faces a public hearing next Thursday, April 10th, at 1pm, in City Council Chambers.

If it is passed, the bill will impact most chain restaurants in Philadelphia, as well as chain convenience stores. They will have to list all four components right on the menu.

Menu boards will have to clearly display calories, and have the additional information accessible.

Reynolds-Brown says giving people information will help them make better choices.

"There is a sense of responsibility for those of us who care about obesity to arm consumers," she says.

Hank Lieberman works for the the Rose Group, which own dozens of Applebee's restaurants in the city.

He says they already list nutritional information on healthier options, such as the "Weight Watchers" section of the menu, formulated in conjunction with the renowned weight loss group.

Lieberman says publishing this info on the entire menu he says isn't practical.

"All it does and all it will do is confuse the customer."

Plus he says figuring out the nutritional information on some dishes is impossible.

He told Action News, "We don't sell and none of the restaurants sell prepacked food like they do in the grocery stores."

Still with a similar law already passed in New York City, this debate will likely pick up steam here in Philadelphia.