Meet your meal

McDonald's menu

KAI RYSSDAL: You might remember the New York City Board of Health caused a stir a couple of months back when it passed two controversial rules. The first banned the use of trans-fats in city restaurants. That one has stuck so far. The second required those restaurants to post nutritional information on their menus. Today that requirement appears in jeopardy, just as other cities are looking to follow suit. Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.


AMY SCOTT: Starting this summer, many New York City restaurants will have to post the calorie count of their dishes on menus or menu boards. The rule only applies to restaurants that already publish the information on the web or elsewhere.

Still, the restaurant industry has been fighting to overturn it. On Wednesday, city councilman Joel Rivera plans to introduce what he calls a compromise. The industry supports it. Restaurants would be required to publish calorie information in pamphlets or on posters. But not, under Rivera's bill, directly on menus.

JOEL RIVERA: There are so many different variations of the meals, that it's gonna be impossible just to put a generic, standardized hamburger has 500 calories.

One hamburger at the chain Ruby Tuesday's actually packs a whopping 1,940 calories. That's according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The activist group backed the original New York City measure — and a dozen or so like it around the country that have yet to pass.

Margo Wootan

is the center's nutrition policy director.

MARGO WOOTAN: When the Cheesecake Factory, you know, has to tell you there are 1,400 calories in a slice of cake, they might make the portion sizes more reasonable.

Councilman Rivera says more than a dozen council members support his bill. ut if New York's tougher standards are under attack, another city may be cooking up its own restrictions. A Washington, D.C. city council member plans to propose a bill next week. It would make chain restaurants publish on their menus not just calories, but levels of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, too.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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