Foodservice Equipment Reports

Fallout From The Big Gulp Bill

The New York City bill banning supersized sugary drinks might have gone down to judicial defeat last week, but the state court ruling was only the tip of the iceberg in an attempt at reining in government interference in the foodservice industry.

The Mississippi Legislature has passed a bill stating any law that might restrict what Mississippians eat or drink has to go through the statehouse. Cities or counties cannot enact rules limiting soda size, salt content, shortening in cookies, toys in fast-food meals for children, how a menu is written or just about any other aspect of the daily dining experience in Mississippi.

The bill is informally known by legislators as the anti-Bloomberg bill, a reference to New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who has pioneered bans on trans fats, public tobacco smoke and, of course, supersized soft-drinks. The bill’s supporters include the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association.

Mississippi’s legislators are not alone in taking action. States including Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Ohio have similarly restricted local governments from regulating the restaurant industry.

Yet Mississippi’s law appears to be the broadest in scope. Cities and counties cannot limit portion sizes or require calorie counts on menus or restrict the sale of food based on how it was grown. Similarly, only the state can control zoning laws that would restrict some restaurants and favor others.