Toy Bans, “Healthy” Food Laws Hits The Books In California

From our always busy file on California regulations comes the widely discussed news that San Francisco has officially banned toys from meals that contain more than predetermined, so-called “healthy” levels of calories, sugar and fat. The veto-proof vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors echoes a similar ban enacted earlier this year in Santa Clara County. The ordinance, scheduled to take effect December 2011, allows the inclusion of a toy if the food and drink combined contain fewer than 600 calories and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat. No word from McDonald’s or other chains on how they will alter Happy Meals and other children’s menu items.

The California city of Watsonville has gone even further in the spirit of “healthy eating.” On Oct. 26, the city of 52,000 in Santa Cruz County adopted an ordinance that will require new restaurants and restaurants renovating their facilities to meet specified nutritional criteria before obtaining a building permit. The Healthy Eating Ordinance goes into effect next week, on Nov. 25 (coincidentally, Thanksgiving).

The California Restaurant Association testified against the ordinance and requested additional time for restaurants to vet the proposal and submit comments; the request was denied. The CRA expressed concerns about legal ramifications and its effect on land use regulations. “Imposing mandatory restrictions based on nutritional guidelines on restaurants applying for a building permit is overreaching,” the association said in statement on its website asking members to lobby against the ordinance. “The agency processing building permits should not also play a role in mandating what kind of menu items restaurants must offer.”

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