Tuesday, June 02, 2009

State Mandates Calorie Counting

I couldn't skip out on this story, could I? House Backs Bill Requiring Chain Restaurants To Disclose Calories, according to the Hartford Courant.

We've been through all this before on this blog, oh so many times. As I've said before, calorie posting requirements are a ridiculous nanny-state assault against how we live our lives. The implication is that we as consumers are too stupid to demand this important information, so the government needs to step in and make sure we're given it whether we're interested or not.

But forgetting about the whole nanny state for a moment, this just makes for bad law. The proposed law covers national restaurant chains with at least 15 outlets, but it doesn't cover smaller restaurants, in-state chains (I'm looking your way Wood N' Tap), and local delis. Perhaps oddest of all, large national grocery chains which offer sandwiches and other ready to eat items are not covered, nor are school cafeterias, even the large college cafeterias that serve pizza, fries, burgers, and all other manner of unhealthy food. House Republican leader Larry Cafero, who is opposed to the bill, wondered why a sandwich from Subway be covered under this law, but a sandwich from Stop and Shop would not be.

But is there any doubt this is about politics, pure and simple. If there's a real public health argument here I'd love to hear it. It's vital to public health that we be provided with this information at McDonald's, but not in the college dining halls where young adults eat every day? It's vital that Outback Steakhouse provide calorie information, but not Carmen Anthony's? Either it's important or it's not. Obviously, it'd be bad politics to require smaller restaurants to post calorie information and lord knows the public school system couldn't handle an expensive mandate, but all the politics are all you need to know that this isn't a necessary law, but a feel good one. It's easy to pass the buck to national chains, many of whom already have much if not all of the needed nutritional information available. But it's not about health and supporters shouldn't try and pretend it is.


Anonymous rose said...


The fact that they are not applying the law to in-state chains and local spots is an acknowledgment that compliance will cost some money. They're willing to impose that cost on national chains.

We can accept as fact that costs exist and costs get passed on to consumers. So then the question is, should consumers be required to purchase calorie info on the food they're buying?

If you support the bill, your answer to that question has to be yes. What % of the population would answer yes?

I'm convinced that we're electing people in CT and nationally whose views aren't representative of the median voter when you really get down to the issues. I'm not sure why though.

4:33 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

I sort of agree with you Rose, although I think the problem is that a substantial majority of voters don't care or simply don't understand the very simple fact that costs exist.

The problem is, these questions are never posed in terms of costs.

11:21 AM  

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