MEAL Act Calls for Fat, Calorie List

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MEAL Act Calls for Fat, Calorie List

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress have teamed with The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the group who exposed ice cream's fat content last summer, to introduce a bill that requires fast feeders and other restaurants to list the nutritional facts on their menus.

The Menu Education and Labeling Act (MEAL Act) introduced last week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., would apply to any restaurant chain with 20 or more sites. The Act would require menus and menu boards to list calorie, saturated and trans fat, and sodium content, according to a report on FoxNews.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
So many people are getting suckered into the super-size choice--super-size fries, super-size burgers, super-size soft drinks," Harkin said. "We're being led to believe that bigger means better value. The harsh reality is that if you consistently choose to super-size, the odds are that soon you will be super-size."

Nearly 65 percent of Americans are obese and the teen obesity rate has tripled in 20 years. (For more on the obesity issue, see the Nov. 17, 2003 issue of CSNews.) Obesity costs the nation $117 billion a year in health care and related costs.

The National Restaurant Association, however, contends a lack of exercise is equally or more responsible for the country's obesity problem; the Meal Act does not address this. Labeling would also be impractical, the association charges, because some restaurants change their menus daily.

"We feel this legislation is sort of redundant to what a lot of companies are already doing by voluntarily providing this information in a manner that's workable for them and workable for their consumers," said Allison Whitesides of the National Restaurant Association told FOXNews.

Many restaurants chains, including fast feeders, post nutritional information for their menu items on their company Web sites.