Federal court rules against New York’s restaurant nutrition labels
While agreeing that New York city health officials have the right to require restaurants to post the nutritional information for the food they serve, the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled Tuesday that the city’s ordinance violates a federal statutory scheme for voluntary nutritional claims. However, the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC) claims the ruling is still a victory for cities that are fighting obesity.
The court order came in response to a complaint filed by the New York State Restaurant Association regarding the city’s regulation, adopted in December 2006, which requires some restaurants to post the caloric value of their food on menu boards where it is clearly visible. The court ruled that, since the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 excludes restaurants from posting nutritional information and does not require nutritional labels to be displayed in the manner required by the New York law, the federal law supercedes the city’s regulation.
However, though the city lost in this case, the ruling provides “clear guidelines” for the 14 states and three major cities that have passed or are considering requiring nutrition labeling for restaurants, said NLC Executive Director Donald Borut in a statement. “We consider [the court order] a win overall because the court clearly recognized the right of state and local governments to require nutrition labeling for restaurants,” Borut says.
Borut says restaurant nutrition labeling is an important tool for fighting obesity. Read Borut’s entire statement.