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CBS News reports that the New Jersey Senate passed a new calorie law. The calorie law would require chain restaurants in New Jersey to post the number of calories in a product right on the menu. The calorie food count measure requires all restaurants with at least 20 locations nationwide to comply with the new law. The bill would not apply to salad bars or buffets.
The penalties for non-compliance range from $50-$100 for a first time offense and then increase to $250-$500 for future offenses.
The law is intended to help consumers make smarter food choices by arming them with calorie food count facts. According to Philly.com, this is not the first time a legislative body has addressed this issue. New York City was the first jurisdiction to introduce a calorie law last year. It was followed by California in July, Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon. Similar measures are being considered in 20 states and localities to date. Philadelphia is planning to enact a similar law in 2010.
While these laws are intended to improve and empower consumers' choices, there are a lot of people who disagree with calorie food count laws.
Rena Levine Levy, owner of Windmill Hot Dog Restaurants, owns 8 locations in the state of New Jersey. While she is not impacted by this calorie law, she still tells CBS News: "I think that some people will pay attention to it. I don't think that obese people will pay attention to it. I don't advocate you eat that every day, but food can be fun."
She claims that the bill will not help with obesity and she worries that the bill will only hurt businesses who make their living off of high calorie fast foods.
However, the New Jersey Senate feels like the law will help their citizens get back on track towards a healthier lifestyle. The New Jersey senator sponsor, Joseph F. Vitale told CBS News: "The payoff is that people will hopefully take better care of themselves, eat a little better from time to time and health care costs could even improve, who knows. This does not tell a restaurant what to serve."
In the meantime, an NYU study revealed that in spite of the recent calorie law passed in New York City, consumers still made poor choices in food selection. In fact, consumers' average calorie count was a whopping 846 calories.
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