The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Federal Appeals Court's Decision on New York Fast-Food Menu Rule Is a Major Victory in the Fight Against Obesity

Statement of Deepak Gupta, Attorney, Public Citizen


Public Citizen is delighted that a federal appeals court has decided to uphold New York City's landmark fast-food menu rule,
which requires chain restaurants to disclose calorie information on
their menus. Today's decision is a major victory in the fight against
the obesity epidemic. It protects consumers' right to know important
nutritional facts and make informed and healthy choices when they eat
out. The ruling is also significant because it clears the way for many
similar state and local laws throughout the nation, such as those
recently passed by the state of California and the city of Philadelphia.

The fast-food industry had asked the court to strike down New York's
rule, claiming that it was pre-empted by a 1990 federal nutrition
labeling law and that it violated the First Amendment. Public Citizen
filed a brief opposing those arguments, representing a broad coalition
that included U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif. and the lead sponsor of
the 1990 law), former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, the American
Medical Association, and many other health groups and experts. Today's
decision echoes many of the arguments made in Public Citizen's brief.

"In requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on their
menus," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concluded,
"New York City merely stepped into a sphere that Congress intentionally
left open to state and local governments." The court also observed that
eating out is a major contributor to obesity and that consumers are
typically unable to assess the caloric content of foods. They do not
realize, for example, that a smoked turkey sandwich at Chili's (930
calories) contains more calories than a sirloin steak (540 calories),
or that two jelly donuts from Dunkin Donuts have fewer calories than a
sesame bagel with cream cheese.

Read the documents related to the case.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000