If We Can’t Get Price Transparency, Let’s Try Calorie Transparency

Who knows why Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB-1420, a silly law that requires chain restaurants (a.k.a. fast-food joints) to post calorie-counts of their burgers, fries, and shakes on the menu-boards. Maybe sign-makers lobbied for it?

I doubt it: Governor Schwarzenegger is a huge supporter of the nanny-state when it comes to ineffective attempts by the government to force our kids to eat healthier. Go to your local Burger King and imagine what the menu-board behind the cashiers’ counter will look like with all that text up on it.

In support of SB-1420, two scholars at the University of California, Berkeley, put on their rose-colored glasses and concluded that the law could cause California to avoid 50 million pounds of extra weight a year! That best-case scenario includes people who eat fast food seven times a week losing 5.4 pounds each. Earth to Berkeley: Someone who eats at Wendy’s seven times a week is not going to pay attention to calories listed on menu-boards.

SB-1420 is likely more about junk lawsuits than junk food. The trial lawyers have been busy developing a strategy to profit from fast food ever since an infamous New York case five years ago, when a couple of obese girls sued McDonald’s.

The suit failed, but McDonald’s settled, and so have nine other defendants in similar cases. And they have just begun: The Public Health Advocacy Institute’s 5th Conference on Public Health, Law, & Obesity met in Boston last month to discuss our “broken food system” – a term more appropriate to Darfur than America.

I can see the next junk-food lawsuit already: a class action against Jack-In-The-Box for selling a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger that’s ten calories more than what’s posted on the board.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top