Nutrition Information Bill Sparks Partisan Debate
The Assembly's approval this week of a bill that would require restaurant and fast-food chains to provide nutritional information has sparked partisan arguments, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Republican opponents of the measure (AB 120) argue that the program would be expensive and impractical. "This is yet another example of nanny government legislation... [i]t is unreasonable to assume that the majority of customers will know what to do with this new wealth of information," Assembly member Alan Nakanishi (R-Lodi) said.
Meanwhile, proponents of the bill say consumers should know nutritional information before purchasing food. "This bill gives Californians information that in many cases they don't have so that they can exercise educated personal responsibility when making food choices," Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) said.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), sponsor of the bill, worked with the restaurant associations to amend the bill so that small businesses were not adversely affected.
"Restaurants would prefer not to be regulated," Kevin Westlye, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, said, adding, "But if this is part of a larger program to fight childhood obesity, then we're ready to do our part."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has about a month to sign or veto the measure. If the governor signs the bill into law, it would become effective on or after July 1, 2009 (Davies, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12).
The Los Angeles City Council this fall will be asked to consider an up to two-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles, a part of the city where fast-food restaurants are most prevalent, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Some cities, such as Berkeley and Arcata, already regulate fast-food restaurants in certain areas. But those regulations primarily are tied to aesthetics or to the protection of smaller businesses as opposed to health concerns, David Gay, Los Angeles' principal city planner, said.
The restaurant industry opposes the ordinance, proposed by City Council member Jan Perry, arguing that exceptions to the ban are not enough.
"It's convoluted logic," Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of Foodservice Strategies at WD Partners, said, adding, "If the objective is to get full-service, upscale casual dining restaurants in an area, I think the first step is finding out why they're not coming in an area, then start addressing those, and start by incentivising."
Perry said the city already offers incentives in South Los Angeles, including quicker permit processing (Abdollah, Los Angeles Times, 9/10).