By Genevieve Mills–
Some Louisville restaurants are on their way to becoming more health-conscious, with the passing of a new local ordinance. On Oct. 15th, Public Health and Wellness food inspectors began to enforce a new law that restaurants that post their nutritional information online must have it in the building as well. This affects those who “make caloric and other nutritional information available through public communication mediums such as the Internet, Websites, etc.” The ordinance says these restaurants must now post the information “on their menus, menu boards, or in another manner on site.” The restaurants may also post a notice saying they have the information available upon request.
This law does not affect restaurants that haven’t put their caloric information online, nor does it require any restaurant to post it on drive-thru boards. It also exempts restaurants that have more than 20 locations nationally. However, the Affordable Health Care Act already requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to display their caloric information somewhere in each business, or available upon request.
This makes the list of restaurants affected by this new ordinance small, as only a portion of Louisville restaurants had previously made an effort to put the information online. Many of those restaurants who did are a part of Louisville’s Healthy Hometown Restaurants, an organization that, according to louisvilleky.gov, participates in voluntary menu labeling to “empower consumers to make a smarter choice when eating out.” This organization was funded by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, so that local businesses could make their menus healthier.
One of the founding members of Healthy Hometown Restaurants is Bazo’s Fresh Mexican Grill. Says Sanjay Sakaria, the owner of Bazo’s, ” We have had nutritional information on all of our menu items available in our restaurants for several years (even before we had a website), but not many customers asked to see it unless they had specific dietary restrictions.” He doesn’t see the new law as having much of a short-term effect, as it only includes restaurants that already provide nutritional information online, and not many local restaurants do so. But with a trend in public health laws, Sakaria predicts customers will become used to seeing nutritional information while eating out and “likely become more conscious about choosing more healthful options.” He says, “[customers] may start asking local restaurants for nutritional information as well. If there is enough consumer demand, I expect that more local restaurants will make the information available.”
The ordinance states that violators have 14 days to come into compliance and will be subjected to a fine of 25 dollars per day afterwards until the rules are met.
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal