By Bay City News Service
An estimated 17,000 chain restaurants in California will soon be required to label their menus with nutritional information, under first-in-the-nation legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
SB 1420, introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, requires restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to post calorie information on their menus and indoor menu boards by January 2011. They will also have to post brochures with calorie and other nutritional information, such as saturated fat, carbohydrates and sodium, at registers or drive-throughs by July 2009.
Gov. Schwarzenegger said the law would allow Californians to make "more informed, healthier choices."
"By being the first state to provide this information to consumers, California is continuing to lead the nation with programs and policies that promote health and nutrition," he said.
According to the governor's office, one in three children and one in four teens in California are considered overweight or at immediate risk of becoming overweight.
The legislation also drew the support of the California Restaurant Association, which had challenged a similar law passed earlier this year by the city of San Francisco in federal court.
That lawsuit is "no longer moving forward," Restaurant Association spokesman Daniel Conway said Tuesday.
Mr. Conway said the Restaurant Association favored the statewide law, which supersedes local ordinances and allows a phased-in implementation that makes it "much more manageable and flexible from our perspective."
The law will affect some 17,000 out of 80,000 California restaurants, many of which already have nutrition information available in some form, he said.
The legislation "creates one uniform standard for all," Mr. Conway said.