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Menu-labeling measures advance in Calif.

LOS ANGELES As proposed menu-labeling legislation took a step forward at the state level this week, local lawmakers in Los Angeles and San Mateo counties advanced measures to require chain restaurants to post nutrition information on menus and menu boards.

The five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to draft an ordinance that would require chain restaurants in unincorporated areas within the county to post calorie and other nutrition data.

The L.A. county ordinance would apply to chains with 14 or more units in the state. An estimated 300 locations in unincorporated areas might be impacted if the proposed ordinance is approved.

County attorneys were asked to draft an ordinance within 30 days, including specifics on what nutrition information beyond calories must be posted and other details. The final draft would require two votes of the board for adoption, and, if approved, would go into effect 30 days after the final vote.

Meanwhile, San Mateo County supervisors on Tuesday reportedly gave the first vote in favor of requiring chain restaurants to post nutrition data on menus and menu boards in unincorporated areas there. According to local reports, the five-member Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which would mandate nutrition disclosure by chains with at least 15 locations in the state. A second vote, likely to occur in September, is required for passage.

If approved, postings must include a breakdown of calories, sodium and fat on menus, and quick-service restaurants must post at least calorie information on menu boards.

Only about 30 restaurants would be impacted, unless incorporated cities within San Mateo County decide to adopt the measure.

At the state level, a Senate bill that would require nutrition disclosure passed out of committee on Monday and was sent to the Assembly floor. The bill, SB 1420, would mandate that chain restaurants with 14 or more units in the state post information on calories, fat, carbohydrates and sodium on menus and menu boards.

Acompeting menu-labeling bill, AB 2572, which has the support of the California Restaurant Association, was held in committee Monday and is considered dead.

CRA officials, however, said they would continue to work with state lawmakers to amend SB 1420 to allow restaurant operators to convey nutrition information through pamphlets, electronic kiosks or posters, rather than being forced to post the information on menus and menu boards. The CRA, which has filed lawsuits to block local menu-labeling ordinances in San Francisco and Santa Clara County, is hoping for uniform standards statewide.

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