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Nashville, host county eye menu labeling

NASHVILLE Tenn. Nashville’s Metropolitan Board of Health has recommended that local units of restaurant chains with at least 10 outlets nationwide be required to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards starting Jan. 31, according to local press reports. The measure would apply to restaurants throughout Davidson County, which encompasses the city and shares its public health resources.

About 500 restaurants would be affected, officials were quoted as saying. They also indicated the establishments would be given a three-month grace period to comply.

Ahearing has been scheduled for Nov. 6 to elicit public opinion on the proposal.

It was unclear if the Board of Health has the authority put the law into effect without legislation, as its counterpart in New York City did, making that city the first jurisdiction in the nation to mandate calorie disclosure from chain restaurants. A number of cities and the state of California have since approved similar measures.

The various labeling initiatives, which differ in their criteria for which restaurants would have to comply, would be pre-empted by a bill that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  That bill, the Labeling Education and Nutrition Act, is supported by the National Restaurant Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and a number of other business groups.

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