Albany County Legislature passes calorie labeling law

The Albany County Legislature passed a law that would force chain restaurants to present consumers with the number of calories in each of their menu items with a 32-to-3 vote during its Monday, Aug. 10, meeting.

The three legislators who voted against the law were Minority Leader Christine Benedict, R-Colonie, Peter Tunny, R-Colonie, and Patrice Lockart, R-Albany.

Local Law B for 2009, the official name of the law, forces restaurants with 15 or more locations to post the number of calories in each item on their menus, menu boards and drive-through menus.

The law was introduced by Tim Nichols, D-Latham, who said he got the idea for the law from a local law in New York City that requires chains to post calorie counts on their menus.

The reason the law would only apply to chains, Nichols said, is because while chains typically maintain the same portions for each of their items, non-chains do not always measure out the portions, and it would be harder to label the amount of calories if the portions are different.

In essence, the law is designed to present the public with accurate information about menu options, encouraging them to make healthier decisions when dining at a chain.

The restaurants will be monitored by the county health department during their annual inspections to ensure that they are posting the calorie information at their location.

Nichols said his intentions were not to deter people from eating at fast-food and chain restaurants, but instead, to let them know about their healthier eating options when eating at these places is the most convenient for their lives.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Nichols said he was pleased the law was passed, proving the support the county legislature has toward a healthier future for county residents.

I'm just excited it was passed with bipartisan support, Nichols said.

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