You Can't Miss It—Even If You Want To


The New York City Board of Health, which is mulling a trans fat ban, is also considering a requirement that restaurants serving food "for which calorie content information is publicly available" make the information more conspicuous by including it on menus and menu boards. The rule would apply only to restaurants, such as McDonald's, KFC, Subway, and Dunkin' Donuts, that already provide calorie counts online, in printed handouts, or on posters. Hence the problem it would solve is not that customers can't get calorie information if they want it but that they can avoid it if they choose to do so. Restaurants that offer a plethora of ordering options, such as Starbucks and Domino's Pizza, are worried that they will be expected to provide calorie counts for every variation (which might require a menu board wrapping around all four walls) or that they will be held liable for accidental inaccuracies due to an extra half-squirt of whipped cream or an errant pepperoni slice. Such daunting possibilities may have the unintended consequence of discouraging restaurants from providing calories counts at all, since they could avoid the menu board mandate by declining to make the information "publicly available" in the first place.