Oregon county passes menu-labeling rules

PORTLAND Ore. Multnomah County commissioners earlier this week unanimously approved rules requiring the posting of calories on menus and menu boards by chain restaurants with 15 or more units nationwide.

The new rules are scheduled to go into effect March 12 for the Oregon county, which includes Portland, but restaurants will have until the end of the year to comply.

Last year, county commissioners passed a policy order requiring menu labeling, but details on the rules were not hashed out until the final vote Wednesday.

Under Multnomah County’s rules, chain operators must post calorie information on all food, drinks and condiments that are not provided for free. Calorie amounts must be posted next to the item in the same size font as the menu listing, as well as on menu boards and drive thru menus. In addition, chains must provide other nutritional data in a brochure or handout available at the point of sale upon request.

State lawmakers have pledged to introduce legislation later this year that would create a menu-labeling mandate for all of Oregon, which, if adopted, would supercede such local requirements.

Multnomah County joins New York City and Washington's King County among the regions that have approved menu-labeling mandates. Similar requirements are scheduled to go into effect in California later this year, the result of a state law adopted in 2008.