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Coalition for U.S. menu labeling is formally launched

WASHINGTON A coalition of more than 30 restaurant chains and trade associations has officially been formed to push for federal legislation that would establish one nationwide menu-labeling standard for multiunit operators.

The Coalition for Responsible Nutrition Information is being co-chaired by the National Restaurant Association and Brinker International. Other members include Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Burger King, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Darden Restaurants, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Brands, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, International Dairy Queen, the International Foodservice Distributors Association, the International Franchise Association, McDonald’s, the National Chicken Council, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Fisheries Institute, the National Franchisee Association, the National Turkey Foundation, OSI Restaurants, Sonic Drive-In, and White Castle.

The group also includes numerous state restaurant associations and state retail associations.

Members of the group have worked together previously to help in drafting and promoting the Labeling Education and Nutrition, or LEAN, Act of 2008. The bill was introduced recently in the Senate recently by Tom Carper, D-Del., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. A statement announcing the group’s organization into a formal coalition indicated the bill also has been introduced in the House of Representatives, by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.

The CRNI said the LEAN Act would help head off the growing patchwork of menu-labeling rules at the state and local level. It would require restaurant and grocery chains with 20 or more outlets to make nutrition data for menu items available to customers before they reach the point of purchase.

Operators with menu boards would have the option of listing calories on the board, on a sign adjacent to the menu board, on a sign in the wait line or by other means as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The bill also would enable restaurants with menus to list calories on the menu, on a supplemental menu, on a menu insert or appendix.

Additional nutrition data, like those listed on packaged foods containers, also would be required to be available in writing before restaurant patrons reach the point of purchase.

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