Albany County Executive Mike Breslin signed a law on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Subway in Latham, that would force chain restaurants to post the number of calories in each of their items on menu boards, menus and drive-thru menus. The law will go into effect 60 days from its signing.
The law was sponsored by Albany County Legislator Tim Nichols, D-Latham, and co-sponsored by Chris Higgins, D-Albany. Its intention, the lawmakers said, is not to regulate what people eat, but instead give them more information about menu items so that they can make a more informed and healthy decision.
Nichols said he got the idea for the law from a similar law that was enacted in New York City.
Local Law B for 2009, the law's official name, forces restaurants with 15 or more locations to post the amount of calories in each item on their menus, menu boards and drive-through menus.
The law would only apply to chains, Nichols said, 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.
The Albany County Health Department will be monitoring whether the chain restaurants are posting the appropriate calorie amounts on their menu items.
When the law was voted on by the Albany County Legislature on Monday, Aug. 10 at the Legislature's regular meeting, it was passed with a 32 to 3 vote. The three legislators who voted against the law were Minority Leader Christine Benedict, R-Colonie, Peter Tunny, R-Colonie, and Patty Lockart, R-Albany.
Benedict explained after the vote that she did not vote for the law because she not think Albany County legislators are elected to work on these types of laws.
I just had heard enough. How much government involvement do we want in everybody's lives around here? she said.