A federal court has ruled against restaurants and upheld a New York City regulation requiring chains to post calorie information on their menu boards. Editors at The New York Times are predictably pleased:
The regulations apply to restaurants that are part of chains with 15 or more locations nationwide. About 10 percent of city restaurants, some 2,400, are affected. A few — including Starbucks, Quiznos, Subway, Chipotle, Auntie Anne’s, Jamba Juice and Chevys — are being responsible and voluntarily complying.
Others, like McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, are hold-outs. They must have missed the news that New Yorkers gained 10 million pounds over the last two years, disproportionately in poor and minority neighborhoods, where many of the 10 million chain-restaurant meals sold each month are consumed. Those neighborhoods are also where diabetes, hypertension and heart disease are at epidemic levels.
Does the weight gain have anything to do with lack of nutritional information? It’s already available if diners want it. Fast food restaurants advertise healthier options to interested customers. And really, no one orders a Big Mac thinking that it’s going to be good for them. People may be eating too much unhealthy food, but a lack of data on menu boards isn’t the cause.
This law isn’t about improving health outcomes. It’s about making city council members and other right-thinking nannies feel good about punishing fast food chains while being condescending toward the people who frequent them. Meanwhile, they will continue to dine at Mario Batali’s restaurants unmolested by the calorie counts lesser mortals need to keep them away from heavy food.
Information wants to be free — but it’s not!