California News

Jan 14, 2011 1:33 AM by Danielle Lerner

Local diners weigh in on second phase of California's "Calorie Law"

You will now notice more than just food items listed on the menu at your favorite chain restaurant. The "Calorie Law" took effect in July of 2009. It required any California restaurant with more than 20 outlets to have calorie information on its premises, not just on the company web site. The next phase of the law kicked in the first of this year, now calorie counts must be listed on the menu or an indoor menu board.

The numbers can be tough to hear and see but now there is no escaping the truth. KSBY News caught up with diners outside California Pizza Kitchen in San Luis Obispo where menu items range from a 200-calorie cup of soup, to a large salad with more than 1500 calories.

"Huge, absolutely huge, the numbers there's four digit numbers on a salad or on a pasta," said Jamie Nuno, who ate at California Pizza Kitchen Thursday. "It's a little shocking."

We found similar surprises at places like Taco Bell, where the food item with the second highest number of calories is a Chicken Ranch Taco Salad, coming in at 910.

Over at Applebee's, Los Osos resident June Link says she may need to rethink a few of her favorite dishes.

"It's not good news, but we appreciate knowing what we're getting because we have to watch our weight," said Link.

So while not everyone will be passing up those bigger portions, most of the people we spoke with are embracing the change.

"I'll stop for a second and say 'wow, that's a lot of calories' but it didn't necessarily make me change my mind," said Nuno. "Probably should have but it didn't."

"I think it would actually positively influence people to order maybe a smaller portion or encourage splitting with their friends, which we did," said Billea Dyson, who lives in Atascadero.

Most of the chain restaurants we visited Thursday do have lighter fare items on the menu to appeal to people who may be watching their calories a bit closer than others.

California was the first state to enact the law but it will soon have a national reach. A provision in the health care law passed in March of last year requires national chain restaurants, vending machines, coffee shops, movie theaters and bakeries to post calorie information on the menu. The Food and Drug Administration must issue proposed regulation of that federal law by March 23.

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