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Washington eyes several nutrition-disclosure bills

OLYMPIA Wash. State lawmakers here are considering two bills that would require some chain restaurants to provide patrons with nutritional profiles of every menu item.

One measure, Senate Bill 6505, would require Washington restaurants that are part of a chain with at least 10 branches nationwide to post the calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sodium content of each standard menu item. The information would have to be posted next to each selection on menus and menu boards. The proposal is a copy of the law that is set to go into effect in King County, an area that includes Seattle, in August.

Asecond senate bill, SB 6659, would require units of chains with at least 25 stores nationwide to disclose the same information. But the restaurants could provide the data in a variety of ways, including in brochures or on posters. An identical bill, HB 3160, has been introduced in the state's House of Representatives.

Athird bill, SB 6786, could set up a task force to study menu labeling options.

The Washington Restaurant Association has set as a legislative priority an expansion of the King County requirement into a "uniform, statewide program" that would be workable. Press reports say the group has endorsed SB 6659 and HB 3160.

King County passed its menu labeling law last summer, after New York City adopted a more focused requirement that was subsequently overturned by a federal judge. New York has since revised its regulation, but the New York State Restaurant Association has challenged that updated version in another lawsuit.

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