Food Policy

Maryland County Piles New Regulations on Struggling Restaurants

Regulations meant to curb childhood obesity will be more effective at hampering restaurants.


A lousy bill passed this week in Prince George's County, Maryland, will force all restaurants in the county that serve kids' meals to offer subjectively healthy foods and beverages as a default option.

The bill passed by a unanimous council vote and is expected to become law once the county executive signs the measure. It's intended to target a host of popular food offerings—from McDonald's Happy Meals to IHOP's kids' menu to, say, a local food truck that offers a meal option for kids.

"The bill will start by requiring, over the next two years, that all food retail businesses offer water, milk, or 100 percent juice to accompany every children's meal as a default beverage option rather than soda, which can still be requested by parents or guardians," Civil Eats reported this week. "Over the next five years, the bill will add requirements for every restaurant to offer at least one healthy side dish and then one healthy main course."

The bill, the text of which you may download here, outlines those additional requirements. For example, it defines a "healthy" kids meal, in part, as one "that contains not more than: 550 calories; 700 milligrams of sodium; 10 percent of calories from saturated fat; 15 grams of added sugars; and 0 grams of trans fat; that includes at least a half (1⁄2) cup of non-fried fruit or non-fried vegetables (excluding white potatoes, juices, condiments, and spreads)."

Advocates hope the new law, dubbed the Healthy Kids Meal Bill, will serve as a national model that will magically transform fast food into health food.

One advocacy group leading the charge for subjectively healthier fast food is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI has promoted narrower bills to make kids' meals subjectively healthier around the country—including in California and New York City. This week, CSPI hailed P.G. County's move.

"Of course, most restaurants should aspire to make most, if not all, of their kids' meals healthy," a staffer from CSPI, which has sued many chain restaurants over the years, opined. "But what a relief for Prince George's parents to know that there would be at least one meal combination on the menu that experts would recommend for a child."

Others may not share CSPI's sense of relief.

Civil Eats spoke with Martin Dresner of the University of Maryland, which is located in Prince George's County. Dresner notes many small, independent restaurants are "really hurting" due to the Covid-19 pandemic and measures that states have adopted to combat it. The Healthy Kids Meal Bill will hurt them some more.

How? Well, it'll increase costs for (and, probably, food waste at) restaurants of all sizes by forcing them to alter their menus in ways customers don't want and foist on kids food items they may not eat. And there's this: how many small restaurants in P.G. County are able to figure out if the food they're serving provides "10 percent of calories from saturated fat"? The bill empowers the health department and other local agencies to enforce a requirement many restaurants can't necessarily comply with.

So the bill will likely harm restaurants of all sizes in Prince George's County at a time when many of them are struggling to stay afloat.

In a report on the bill's passage, NBC's Washington, D.C. affiliate, WRC, relayed the story of one P.G. County resident who says he supported the bill's passage because he "lost 200 pounds by changing his eating habits."

That's remarkable. I sincerely applaud his incredibly hard work and dedication. He's a role model. But that resident—not county lawmakers—changed his eating habits and bettered his life.

Childhood obesity is a serious and prevalent problem in P.G. County and elsewhere. However well-intended, though, Prince George's County's new Healthy Kids Meal Bill won't do much, if anything, to fix that problem. What the Healthy Kids Meal Bill will do, though, is increase costs for restaurants of all sizes that operate in Prince George's County. At any time—but particularly in the wake of a pandemic that has already forced many restaurants to close permanently—that's an unnecessary and bitter pill to swallow.

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  1. Brought to you by the county that locks up your kids so they can’t get together and play –

    1. Hmm, competing irrational fears. I wonder how this will turn out.

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    3. Meanwhile Georgia restaurants have no restrictions. Sit in whatever booth you want. Inside…outside. No masks required statewide.

      And Georgia has less deaths than it did in 2019.

      Travelers from all over the USA are bringing their kungflu germs to Georgia for us to get it and get over it.

      1. Be exposed it is more like it. Wuhanvirus has a 10% infection rate. <1% death rate for 99% of the people that gets it.

    4. White Savior Complex on full display.

  2. This is another step towards outlawing meat, which will happen in our lifetime. For the little people, of course. Our ruling masters will still eat whatever they like.

    1. “Have you tried the unborn dolphin?”

    2. Soylent Green is people!

    3. I’d make an exception on cannibalism to eat said ruling masters, since communists aren’t people.

  3. Reason writes articles decying the policies brought on by the people they vote for. Seems reasonable…

    1. You think Reason somehow can control politicians and what they do?

      1. Don’t you know? Unreason is a left-wing propaganda rag. They totally ignore the suppressed news that outlets like Breitbart and OANN cover.

        1. Shut the fuck up Dee.

        2. Thanks for spelling it out ENB

        3. Why does the lefty shit deny him being a lefty shit when all he does is defend lefty shittiness?

    2. Look up fabians and jacobins. Describes what unreason traitors are to a tee.

      1. Was Gillespie a traitor when he said in the Reason Roundtable podcast when he said that he would have preferred a Trump win over a Biden win?

  4. *decrying*

  5. The most harmful regulation affecting restaurants — indeed, affecting all businesses — is Drumpf’s draconian war on immigration. Restaurants would be prospering if they had access to unlimited foreign-born labor.

    Expect things to improve dramatically when President Biden implements a more Koch-friendly immigration policy.


    1. Yes. Given that those brave wage-slaves in restaurants are dying by the thousands every day, we certainly need an endless supply of replacements.

      1. “brave wage slaves in restaurants are dying by the thousands every day” /Hyperbole Sans Bold font

        Lacks both sourcing and specificity.

        Also…”by the thousands”?? Can we generate electricity from them?

    2. the COVID shutdowns and curfews and looting and fires and destruction from the mostly peaceful protests didn’t help either.

    3. More like Prisoner Biden once Sidney Powell is through with him.

      1. Good one!

        Oh, your serious…

      2. Biden had one choice. Go along with a massive democrat scheme to commit election fraud or end up indicted along with hunter, hillary, comey, mccabe, etc….

        1. Well, he had the other choice. The other choice that he took: act normal, don’t say anything extreme or crazy, and let Trump be nutso, offensive Trump.

  6. Left wingnuts always take the fun out of everything.

    Stop voting for democrats.

  7. All you need do is mention CSPI – a bunch of Naderite communist true believers, as reputable as the SPLC. Where the hell do they get their money from? George Soros? Fruit juice is pure sugar water, offering healthy food the kids won’t eat is just stupid, limiting the amount of fat and salt in a meal doesn’t preclude you from ordering two meals – this is just plain authoritarian virtue signalling intended to punish restaurants for daring to offer what their customers want rather than what our lords and masters decree that they should want. And they are indeed our lords and masters unless and until average Americans grow a spine and a pair and tell them to fuck off or we’re going to kill you, and then start doing it. Government and government bureaucrats are relentless power-mongers, they will never give up, they will never be satisfied, they will never stop issuing ever-more odious regulations designed to grind your face into the fact that you are powerless to stop them.

    1. Just do away with anything on the menu that’s intended for kids. Let them eat the full sized, full calorie meal meant for obese American adults.

      1. I suspect this is the easiest answer for restaurants.

      2. If that doesn’t work, just offer as a kids meal 1/2 cup of non-fried fruit and/or vegetables. That follows the law perfectly.

    2. Fruit juice is pure sugar water

      That statement is pure retardation.

      1. Sugar water with vitamins.

      2. Fruit juice is thoroughly and completely not recommended for those with diabetes. Wonder why that is, eh.

        1. Because they’ve got diabetes? Just guessin’…

      3. True, it would more accurate to say it’s *almost* pure sugar water.

      4. It’s loaded with sugar, but at least it’s not empty calories like candy and other sugary snacks.

    3. Zuckerberg reportedly gave democrats $400 million this year.

      1. People accept murder contracts for tens of thousands. Imagine what millions buys.

        1. So, what is your proposed solution to the problem of money influencing politicians?

  8. OT but this cracked me up

    “One way to end the window-breaking in Portland is to hire the protestors to break windows. I feel as if most would not show up for work.”

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  10. Was Michelle Obo elected food czar in PG county?

  11. Imagine how these kinds of regulations and prohibitions will ramp up once everyone is forced to pay for the health expenses of everyone else. The Karens will be out in force patrolling the dinner choices of folks at the other tables. “Step on the scale, Fatso. I’m not paying for your burger and french fries. Eat this tofu and brocolli burger or starve.”

    1. Tax excess body weight. It’s a win-win!

      1. Skip the intermediate stage and simply tax illness. Like reverse health insurance.

      2. Don’t have to tax it… just wait for the single payer medical system to come about and they’ll ban most life saving treatment for the obese.

  12. force all restaurants in the county that serve kids’ meals to offer subjectively healthy foods and beverages

    “You do mean each restaurant owner gets to choose what is subjectively healthy, right? RIGHT?!”

    1. “… to offer subjectively healthy foods and beverages as a default option.”

      I noted too that the word subjectively was used repeatedly. Whole different meaning from ‘objectively’, wherein discrete measures of healthfulness would be used. The purpose of objective assessments is that it would be reproducible by any qualified laboratory throughout the world. Stewart Potter type subjective criteria are inherently unconstitutional for vagueness, and inability to define a priori whether a thing is legal or illegal.

  13. Ultimate claim: parents are not capable of raising their own children. Only the state can know what is best for everyone.

    So, what next?

    1. Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

      On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

      The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

      Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

      But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.

      And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.

      The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

      1. Perhaps not just bourgeois, but racist? See the radical plank in BLM manifestos rejecting the traditional family.

    2. Required attendance at government indoctrination centers? Oh wait…

  14. Here’s a trick for always getting fresh, hot fries at fast food restaurants: ask for salt free. They’ll have to make a fresh batch just for you. Then add your own salt. You’re welcome.

    1. Thank you!

    2. One side of fries, extra saliva, coming up!

      1. Yeah because fast food workers spit in food because people ask for no salt. Try harder doofus.

        1. He’s telling us what he does when someone orders.

        2. You would know better than me.

          1. It’s like you forgot you told us you worked in fast food for years.

              1. Rub some cream on that burn.

                1. He forgot.

                  1. Dance, trolls! Dance!

                    1. You embarrassed yourself again sarc! Now stop being so stingy with the ketchup packets.

      2. Who would think soggying up something so obviously would ever work. Or is it a tiny little spray that wouldn’t be noticed, so completely ineffectual?

        It’s not a burger. If my fries are soggy they go back. You spitting in them would be kind of pointless and dumb.

      3. I worked in restaurants for years. Sit down (reasonably nice) restaurants, with servers and bartenders and a full kitchen staff. My family still owns several. I’ve never seen anyone intentionally adulterating any food and I’m 100% certain that if anyone ever saw someone doing that, they would be fired on the spot.

        I’ve personally worked with customers who were completely awful, terrible people, who I kinda hated. I’ve worked with chefs and cooks and servers who were vindictive and angry, and sometimes sadistic megalomaniacs. None of them ever did this. Because defiling someone’s order is just about the worst thing you can do for the restaurant and your team. It’s right up there with stealing someone else’s tips.

        I probably don’t have as much drive-thru experience.

    3. Yup. Food hack.

  15. Hmm, I can’t wait to see the advertising campaign for the Unhappy Meal.

    In addition to foods that kids hate, it contains a chore requirement and some homework.

    1. Community service, comrade.

  16. Governments assume you are too stupid to decide what to eat and drink on your own.

    1. I saw that. They’d have a stronger case, of course, if Trump’s lawyers had had even a modicum of success in their challenges.

    2. Translation: “We think prosecuting voter fraud disproportionately harms black people!”

      Has the left ever considered NOT being so racist?

      1. Hard to be “superior” without looking down on people.

    3. Throwing out millions of unverified mailin ballots is voter suppression. Haha.

      Vote in person like unpussified normal people.

      Trump vs biden is gonna be a glorious win for trump. Democrats throwing more shit to the wall to see what sticks for biden is very telling.

      1. Any election rules changes without state legislature approval violates the constitution. All those ballots need to be tossed. Sorry youre too stupid to fall for democrats schemes and vote by mail, but vote in person next time. Or get tour state legislatures to change election laws.

        1. Which state legislature and which election rule change? Be specific what you are talking about, otherwise you are just ranting.

      2. Pretty much. What standard could possibly be devised to throw out that quantity of ballots without accidentally throwing out many legal votes?

  17. I guess already healthy kids will no longer get to experience the treat of going out once every week or two to get some delicious slightly unhealthy kid-pleasing food with ceayons and toys. One more childhood joy robbed from them, like playing outside unsupervised.
    How lucky was I to grow up in the 1970s, during a crime epidemic and inflation

    1. You are lucky to have survived, especially with the millions of kids kidnapped every month–at least according to the milk cartons.

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  19. The nanny state at its most delicious right here

  20. Fascist food. The step was obvious.
    And get rid of the damn toy that some kid somewhere might enjoy.
    Put in ballots.

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  22. Simple: PG County restaurants (and anywhere else this sort of nonsense passes) will just stop offering “kid meals”. Congrats. You now get to pay full price for regular-menu meals for your kids.

  23. So I assume the restaurants will change the name of their “kids meals” to something like “small meals” and move on….They can even add a note on the menu that these meals are intended for both kids and adults

  24. Simple: PG County restaurants (and anywhere else this kind of nonsense passes) will just prevent offering “kid meals”. Congrats. You now get to pay full fee for regular-menu meals to your kids.

  25. Only 21? How can that be? Read More

  26. At least Maryland will still have restaurants, unlike LA.

  27. This was very insightful. Thanks for the post.

  28. When will these people learn?

    Ever wonder why your child’s school lunches are all prepackaged and reheated? Why no one dares make anything fresh other than a salad?

    It’s because to demonstrate compliance with the extensive school nutrition requirements, you need to either do an absurd amount of math for a low paying educational support staff job, or just buy the box and copy the nutritional label. It’s a simple fact. This is why school lunches are poor quality, relatively low nutrition, and tasteless. Because they aren’t cooks providing quality food. They are reheating frozen boxes in order to check the right boxes.

  29. Yes juice and milk are great options….if you want to go down the road to diabetes and heart disease. Leave it to our rulers to know whats best for us.

  30. Ever wonder why your child’s college lunches are all prepackaged and reheated? Why no one dares make some thing fresh aside from a salad?

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