OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1080 (File 606, as amended by Senate “A”)*

AN ACT CONCERNING ACCESS TO HEALTH AND NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION IN RESTAURANTS.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires chain restaurants to disclose on their standard printed menus or menu boards total calorie counts for standard menu items. The Department of Public Health (DPH) must adopt regulations incorporating the calorie information requirements into regularly scheduled inspections of such food service establishments.

*Senate Amendment “A” (1) provides additional definitions; (2) adds the provisions on food item tags, food items intended for more than one individual, reasonable means for determining calorie totals, effect on municipal laws and local zoning, offering of voluntary supplemental information, and trade secrets and proprietary information; and (3) changes some of the provisions in the original bill concerning calorie disclosure of varieties and flavors of standard menu items and items in a salad bar, buffet, or similar arrangement.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2009, except that the provision on authorized agents' inspections takes effect July 1, 2010.

CHAIN RESTAURANT DISCLOSURE OF CALORIES IN STANDARD MENU ITEMS

By July 1, 2010, the bill requires each chain restaurant in the state to make available to consumers the total number of calories for each standard menu item as that item is usually prepared and offered for sale by the restaurant. The bill defines “chain restaurant” as a restaurant that is part of a group of 15 or more restaurant locations nationally; doing business under the same trade name, and offering predominantly the same type of meals, foods, or menu, regardless of the type of ownership of the individual restaurants. “Restaurants” do not include grocery stores, movie theaters, itinerant food vendors, or catering food establishments.

A “standard printed menu” is a printed list or menu, or pictorial display of food or beverage items offered for sale by the restaurant. It does not include printed or pictorial materials used for promotional or marketing purposes.

A “standard menu item” is a food or beverage item, or combination, listed or displayed on a standard printed menu, menu board, or food item tag, offered for sale by a chain restaurant for at least 90 days a year. It does not include a customized order, alcoholic beverages, packaged foods subject to federal regulatory requirements, condiments, and other food items placed on tables or counters for general use without charge. A “customized order” is any variation of a standard menu item requested by a customer.

Standard Printed Menu

Each chain restaurant using a standard printed menu:

1. must list the total number of calories next to each standard menu item in a size and typeface similar to other information included on the standard printed menu about such item, and

2. may include on the menu a disclaimer that there may be variations in the total number of calories across servings of standard menu items, based on special orders or slight variations in overall serving size or ingredient quantity.

Use of a Menu Board

Under the bill, each chain restaurant using a menu board or similar sign to list its food or beverage items (1) must list the total number of calories next to the item in a size and typeface similar to other information included on the menu board or sign about the item and (2) may include on the board or sign a disclaimer concerning variations in the total number of calories based on special orders or slight variations in serving size or ingredient quantity.

Food Item Tags

The bill requires that if a food item is displayed for sale in a chain restaurant with a food item tag, the tag must include the total number of calories for the item, in a font size and format no less prominent than the font size identifying the food item. A “food item tag” is a label or tag identifying a food item displayed for sale by a chain restaurant.

Varieties and Flavors of Standard Menu Items

For standard menu items that come in different flavors and varieties the chain restaurant must list on standard printed menus and menu boards the range of total calories for such menu items showing the minimum and maximum calorie totals for all flavors and varieties of such items for each size. But the range of total calories total does not have to be included on standard printed menus and menu boards if the total number of calories is included on the food item tag for each flavor and variety. This applies, but is not limited to, beverages, ice cream, pizza, and doughnuts.

Salad Bar, Buffet Line, Cafeteria Service, or Other Self-Serve Arrangement

The bill does not require a chain restaurant providing a salad bar, buffet line, cafeteria service, or similar self-serve arrangement to list calorie totals for such items on a standard printed menu, menu board, or similar sign listing food and beverage for sale. But the restaurant must include a food item tag for each item, in close proximity to where the item is offered for sale. The tag must list the recommended serving size and the total number of calories per serving. It must be in a font size and format no less prominent than that identifying the food item.

Food Items Intended to Serve More than One Person

The bill requires that for any standard menu item, other than one displayed with a food item tag, intended to serve more than one person, the standard printed menu or board must include the number of people intended to be served by the menu item and the total number of calories per individual serving. If the standard menu item is listed or pictured as a single menu item or prepared as a combination of two or more standard items, the total calorie number must be based on all possible combinations for the item. It must include the minimum and maximum number of calories for each item. If there is only one possible total calorie number for the combination, then that must be disclosed.

“Reasonable Means” in Determining Calorie Totals

The bill requires chain restaurants to use reasonable means in determining the total number of calories for each standard menu item. “Reasonable means” is defined as any reasonable means recognized by the federal Food and Drug Administration in determining nutritional information and calorie total information for a standard menu item as it is usually prepared and offered for sale. This includes the use of nutrient databases and laboratory analyses.

The bill specifies that it must not be construed to preclude a chain restaurant from voluntarily providing supplemental nutritional information.

Municipal Laws or Ordinances

The bill specifies that its provisions on chain restaurant calorie disclosure supersede and preempt any municipal laws or ordinances concerning the content of a standard printed menu, menu board, or food item tag at a chain restaurant with respect to calories, nutritional and health information that is effective prior to, on, or after July 1, 2010.

Local Zoning

Under the bill, if a chain restaurant must increase the size of a menu board or similar sign to comply with the bill's provisions, the board or sign is not subject to local zoning regulations unless it exceeds by 25% or more the existing size of the menu board or sign.

INSPECTIONS AND REGULATIONS

The bill requires each authorized agent that inspects a chain restaurant to evaluate the restaurant's compliance with the bill's provisions when performing his or her regularly scheduled inspection. An “authorized agent” is an individual certified by the DPH commissioner to inspect food service establishments and enforce the Public Health Code provisions concerning their sanitation under the supervision or authority of a local health director.

As part of the evaluation, the authorized agent may request that the franchisors or corporate owners of chain restaurants provide documentation of the accuracy of the listed calorie totals. But they are not required to provide any documentation containing trade secrets or proprietary information. The bill specifies that the authorized agent is not responsible for verifying the accuracy of the listed calorie totals.

The bill requires the DPH commissioner, by July 1, 2010, to adopt regulations incorporating inspection and enforcement procedures addressing the requirements for calorie information into regularly scheduled food service establishment inspections.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Health Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

22

Nay

9

(03/26/2009)

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

11

Nay

4

(05/11/2009)