Can Restaurants Curb Regulators' Urge to Count Calories?

A recent article in Business Week covered a movement that seeks to force restaurants to prominently post calorie counts on their menu items. Health advocacy groups want the restaurant industry to provide customers with easily accessible nutrition information in order that they can make more informed menu choices. Opponents to this push see these groups as the "food police" and believe it is an infringement on free choice.

This situation is very delicate for the restaurant marketers. Self-regulation is almost always preferred over government regulation. The industry has taken steps to respond to Americans' expanding waistline such as healthier menu items and smaller portions. However, for many people critical of the restaurant industry these tactics are token moves that do not address public health concerns adequately.

Also, this issue seems ripe for government intervention as elected officials could take on this issue with little political risk. For a politican, saying "I believe restaurants should clearly post calorie information on their menus" is about as risky as saying "I think the telemarketing industry should allow people to sign up for a 'Do Not Call' list." This scrutiny of restaurants is not surprising; I see this as another step in legal and regulatory forces intent on making food marketers their next tobacco industry. Link