SACRAMENTO – Just how many gut-busting calories are in that cheeseburger, french fry and chocolate shake lunch? Those who favor chain restaurants may soon be able to find out. A bill that would require restaurants to disclose calorie counts and other nutritional information passed its first legislative hurdle Wednesday. Fast-food outlets would be required to post the calories contained in each of their items on menu boards. Printed menus would have to list calories plus the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium in each item. “People are eating out more now than they were a generation ago,” said state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles. “If a restaurant can tell you how to super-size a meal, they can certainly tell you how many calories.” Organizations fighting diabetes, cancer and heart disease said the measure would help with what Padilla called America’s “obesity epidemic” by allowing consumers to make better choices about what they eat. It would apply to chains with 10 or more restaurants. Two other similar bills were introduced this year. The authors of that legislation, Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and Assemblyman Mark De Saulnier, D-Martinez, agreed to support Padilla’s bill. The Senate Health Committee voted 6-2 to send Padilla’s bill to the Appropriations Committee over the objections of the 22,000-member California Restaurant Association. “A menu will actually become a book … and actually confuse the consumer,” association lobbyist Jon Barnato told the committee. Many restaurants already post nutrition information inside the business or on Web sites. But enacting a law invites frivolous lawsuits, Barnato said, even though the legislation would allow nutrition information to be off by as much as 20 percent. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t taken a position on the bill, said spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart. But she noted the governor, a fitness buff and former bodybuilder, signed laws banning junk food and sodas from schools. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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