Menu Food Labeling

August 20, 2011

This feels like creeping incrementalism to me – “nanny state” going one bridge too far. Just because a thing can be required does not mean it should be. Government has to know its limitations. Restaurant owners and chefs can (do) seize this opportunity to distinguish themselves, and the meals they prepare and serve, by sharing such information voluntarily. People can then make responsible choices.

I suppose there is a role for elected officials to play in determining how food and beverages are selected and purchased for distribution to school children, presumable with considerable parent input. The expenditure of public funds to nourish those who are, perhaps, not yet able to make wise choices themselves (and who are essentially a captive audience delivered to potential vendors), serves legitimate educational and public health purposes. Food labeling helps consumers at their point of purchase, too.

The same can not be said with respect to adult choices, freely made, in the higly competitive restaurant market. This may be less true elsewhere on the planet than in Boulder, but calorie counts on every menu item at every establishment seem unlikely to significantly alter the menu choices we each make during our occasional night(s) out. This concept is a great example of reaching a point of diminishing returns, particularly when considered in light of the compliance costs, enforcement challenges, and visual clutter inherent to its implementation. I’ve grown tired of being told someone else knows what’s best for me. I can handle this one myself.

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