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April 16, 2008  

Federal Judge Upholds New York City’s Fast-Food Calorie Labeling Rule

Ruling Will Help Consumers Make Healthy Menu Choices  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal judge today ruled that certain fast-food and chain restaurants in New York City must comply with a requirement to disclose calorie information on their menus, rejecting arguments from the state restaurant association that the groundbreaking city ordinance was preempted by federal law.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Holwell also rejected claims that the labeling ordinance violated the restaurants’ First Amendment rights.

Public Citizen and other health groups filed a friend of the court brief in the case in support of New York City’s Board of Health, which was sued by the New York State Restaurant Association

“Judge Holwell’s decision sets an important precedent that public health officials can look to as they draft similar regulations or legislation,” said Public Citizen attorney Deepak Gupta, who made oral arguments in the case. “Consumers need this type of nutrition information so they can make healthy decisions when they dine out.”

The decision clears the way for New York City to enforce its labeling ordinance, which is designed to provide consumers with calories on fast-food menu boards and on printed menus.

Public health advocates say Holwell’s ruling will pave the way for local governments across the country to pass similar labeling ordinances. Thus far, San Francisco and Washington’s King County, which includes Seattle, also have enacted menu labeling laws.

The Public Citizen brief was signed by a distinguished list of organizations and experts, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, the Medical Society of the State of New York, the Trust for America’s Health and several of the nation’s leading professors of nutrition and public health.

READ the ruling and other documents in the case. 

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