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De Blasio Administration Announces New Calorie Labeling Rules

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that all New York City chain food retailers offering prepared foods, or “restaurant-type foods,” will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards. In addition, chain restaurants and retailers will be required to have full nutritional information – not just calories – for standard menu items available on site, and they will have to post a statement about the daily recommended caloric intake of 2,000 calories. This rule is required for all chain restaurants with 15 locations or more nationwide, affecting approximately 3,000 restaurants and about 1,500 food retailer chains.

Starting May 22, the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs will begin enforcing the updated calorie labeling rules by educating businesses during regular inspections. On August 21, both agencies will begin issuing notices of violation subject to fines for not following the updated rule. Chain restaurants and food retailers that are not in compliance will be subject to fines ranging from $200 to $600.

“We are all tempted to make unhealthy choices, but with these new, common-sense rules, New Yorkers will have the information to make better choices and lead healthier lives,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We can no longer wait for federal action, and urge other cities to follow our lead.”

“This Administration continues to be at the forefront of public health practice, and these new rules demonstrate our ongoing commitment to promoting and protecting the health of New Yorkers, “said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “These new rules give busy people quick facts they can use to make healthier choices when picking up prepared meals for themselves and their families.”

“Calorie labeling makes it easier for New Yorkers to learn more about the food they are consuming,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “New York City led the way on requiring calorie labeling in chain restaurants nearly 10 years ago, and we are proud to continue this work by ensuring New Yorkers can access this important information at other types of establishments.”

“Who hasn’t grabbed a prepared meal when you’re out running errands?” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “It is just as important for us to be able to know how many calories are in one of those meals as the ones in a pre-packaged snack or meal at a chain restaurant so we can better take care of ourselves. We are proud to join the Health Department in taking a national lead in enforcing this law as part our patrol inspections of chain food service establishments, like convenience and grocery stores.”

In 2008, New York City led the nation by becoming the first jurisdiction to require calorie labeling in chain restaurants. Numerous cities, counties and states followed suit, and in 2010 calorie labeling requirements became a part of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2015, New York City updated its longstanding Health Code rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information for menu items, but delayed enforcement in anticipation of an identical federal rule that would make calorie information available in chain restaurants and chain food retailers nationwide. Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would delay enforcement of these rules for a year, and the City has decided to enforce its updated calorie labeling rules as planned.

New Yorkers can look forward to several improvements in chain convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants as a result of the updated calorie labeling rule, including:

·       Calorie information about prepared foods sold in chain convenience stores and grocery stores.

·       A new statement on menus and menu boards at all chain restaurants, chain convenience stores and grocery stores to give more information about calorie needs. The statement reads, “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

·       Additional nutrition information about menu items available onsite upon request, including total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar, and protein.

The calorie labeling rule complements the Health Department’s sodium warning rule, which requires restaurants to place salt shaker icons next to menu items that contain 2,300 mg of sodium or more, the daily recommended limit. The sodium warning rule also states that these restaurants must post a warning where customers place their orders that high sodium intake can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. In April 2017, the Health Department announced the end of its legal battle with the National Restaurant Association over the sodium warning rule. As of May 12, 2017, nearly 9 out of 10 NYC chain restaurants were in compliance with the sodium warning rule.

New Yorkers can also find health information for restaurant menu items on MenuStat.org, a Health Department website with nutrition data from over 150 top national restaurants. For more, visit menustat.org.

For more information on calorie labeling requirements, visit nyc.gov/health/foodservice.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stated, “More information is helpful to consumers as they endeavor to make health-conscious choices when they shop. I hope to work in partnership with City Hall to expand these efforts and tackle the labeling of nutritional information that impacts diabetic and pre-diabetic New Yorkers, such as glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). Preventative health is the best medicine, and consumer education is critical to that mission.”

“Requiring nutrition information to be posted at these businesses is common sense,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Since we now have a federal administration opposed to common sense, I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for stepping up to make sure New Yorkers have the information they need to make informed decisions.”

“Consumers deserve to have all the information they need to make informed decisions. This move by the City Health Department will make it easier for New Yorkers to learn the nutritional content of the foods they’re eating, which will in turn can help lead to better choices and a healthier lifestyle,” saidCongressman Eliot Engel.

“Calorie labeling helps New Yorkers make healthy choices,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried.  “With the Trump administration shelving federal rules, New York City can continue to be a leader in educating customers about health information in restaurants.”

Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly Felix W Ortiz said, “I have long supported requiring chain grocery and convenience stores offering prepared foods to post calorie information so diners can be better informed. This is a priority I’ve been fighting for in Albany and am pleased New York City will enable restaurant diners to have nutritional information before ordering meals.”

“While the Trump administration may disagree, knowledge is power, and that is particularly true when it comes to nutrition,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. “People have the right to readily-available information regarding the food they consume and the effects it will have on their health. I want to commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett for consistently leading the charge on progressive health policies.”

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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