NYC officials OK with calorie-posting compliance despite issuing 682 tickets

NYC officials OK with calorie-posting compliance despite issuing 682 tickets

NEW YORK —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Since enforcement of the menu-labeling law began July 18, after a three-month grace period, 682 citations have been written, with McDonald’s [3] and Dunkin’ Donuts [4] garnering the highest and second-highest number of alleged violations, respectively, health authorities said. Restaurants deemed noncompliant have been fined between $200 and $2,000 each, depending on the seriousness of the infraction. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

“It looks like most chains are complying,” said Elliott Marcus, associate commissioner of the department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation. “We’re still really into the first few months of it, so we’re still getting inquiries about signs, and there probably have been a dozen or two [incidents] when violations have been recalled.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

The rule, the first of its kind in the United States, has required the on-menu posting of calorie counts for every food and drink item, including alcoholic beverages, at local branches of chains with 15 or more U.S. units. Approximately 10 percent of all restaurants in New York City, or about 2,400 locations, are affected by the rule. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Since the health department began issuing the citations, 103 have been issued to McDonald’s restaurants and 89 to Dunkin’ Donuts locations. Kentucky Fried Chicken stores have received 32 citations and both Starbucks Coffee [5] and Subway [6] have 26 each. Burger King [7] has racked up a total of 23. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Nearly half of the citations issued, Marcus said, were at locations not in compliance with the rule during the first six weeks of its enforcement. “Some [chains] waited until the last minute while others were right out front and got it started,” he said. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Most of the citations involved the posting of incorrect calorie information, especially for items that require a range of calories to be stated, to encompass ingredient options, he said. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

According to Marcus, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are two chains where “individual franchise operators haven’t gotten it quite right.” He explained that “some of the problem has been interpreting what the law really means. There have been some misunderstandings that we’re trying to correct.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Irwin Kruger, a McDonald’s franchisee with four units in mid-town Manhattan, said some of his fellow franchisees were cited for listing calories in a font size that was too small. He noted that some of the franchisees have hired an attorney to fight the citations, though he is not one of them. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

“Everyone is now on the same page and knows what is required of them and, obviously, are making changes in order to conform,” Kruger said. “It sounds like there was a communication breakdown between what was expected and what was done. My guess is it had nothing to do with anything other than an uncertainty of how things had to be displayed.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

In Subway’s case, violations occurred because operators did not know they had to post caloric information for both the 6-inch sub offering and the $5 Footlong promotion, Marcus said. At the Starbucks units, citations were issued mainly because one or two items were missing calorie displays. In both cases, Marcus added, the restaurants are starting to correct the problems. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Officials of Dunkin’ Brands [8], the Canton, Mass.-based franchisor of Dunkin’ Donuts, complained that localized attempts to mandate on-menu nutrition data are costly and disruptive to their franchisees’ businesses, though the chain is committed to complying in the best possible way. In its prepared statement, Dunkin’ said some citations were “issued in error, and we are working … to determine which of the notices … can possibly be withdrawn.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

“Over the summer,” Dunkin’ said, “we provided copies of the menu boards for our Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins [9] restaurants to the Board of Health and Hygiene for their review and comment. They confirmed our presentations of calorie information are in keeping with the requirements of the code.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Au Bon Pain [10], the 221-unit, fast-casual bakery-cafe chain, has seen New York franchisees visited 12 times by health officials and fined three times by the board of health, said Ed Frechette, ABP’s director of marketing. He noted that the citations focused on such infractions as not having calories posted for a cup of flavored coffee even though the numbers were posted for a variety of blends sold. He also said a citation was issued because calories were not posted for the half-sandwich-and-soup combo even though the calories were listed for both the sandwich and the soup at their individual stations at one of the stores. The bad news, he said, is the chain was fined, but the good news is it was for the minimum amount. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

“I know the most we’ve paid is $400 [for a fine],” he said. “This is all new to all of us, and we’re trying to do the best we can. We’re trying to respond to every request, trying to be clear with the information without overwhelming the guest and not be redundant. I do think the feedback from the board of health has been very positive, and sometimes when they give you a violation they give you time to fix the problem before you get a fine, a grace period.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

Marcus said the health department could not estimate the total dollar amount for fines already issued, but indicated that those written in July and August totaled only a few hundred dollars. —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.

“There are still a lot of things that need to shake out,” Marcus said. “Since we’ve really been enforcing [the law] the industry is doing a good job [with compliance], and certainly we will work with groups who need help in getting the calories posted correctly.” —Though nearly 700 citations have been issued to chain restaurants here for alleged violations of the city’s new calorie-posting regulation, health department officials say they are largely pleased with the industry’s initial attempts to comply.