Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Menu Labeling & the ACA

October 4th, 2012

You might have noticed that more and more restaurants and fast food places are starting to put calorie and other nutrition information on their menus.  That’s not a coincidence or accident- they’re getting ready for the upcoming menu nutrition labeling requirements in the Affordable Care Act.  Section 4205 of the new law requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie content information for standard menu items directly on the menu and menu boards.  Vending machine operators with 20 or more machines are also required to disclose calorie content for certain items. 

This kind of upcoming nutrition clarity is a real opportunity for public health change.  Not only will the new labels give the public key information to help them make better decisions about what they buy for themselves and their families- it’ll give pause to restaurants before they label their menus- giving them an opportunity to change ingredients to lower calorie counts.  It may even spur a trend away from “super-sizes” and toward more appropriate and reasonable serving sizes.  With 32% of the calories consumed in the US tied to eating outside the home- this is an important opportunity.  

But it’ll only help if people know what to look for and how to make informed decisions with the new info.  That’s where the Arizona and national public health systems come in.  We’ll have an opportunity over the next couple of years to take advantage of this new information and maximize its utility.  A great way to get ready to use the information that is appearing on restaurant menus is to know more about what and how much you need to eat to be at your best. Check out the USDA SuperTracker to get your personalized nutrition and physical activity plan, track your foods and physical activities to see how they stack up, and  get tips to help you make healthier choices. 

For many of us, making sure that we enjoy our food, but eat less is a good first step.  Avoiding over-sized portions is another one. Check out our SNAP-Ed Champions for Change – Arizona Nutrition Network website for tips on healthy eating and active living, great videos, fun games, easy-to-make recipes, and more.

Annual Statewide Environmental Health Report

December 29th, 2011

I started my career in public health inspecting restaurants, motels and the like in the mid- 1980s.  My area was right around here down toward South Mountain-  and I inspected the cafeteria in the basement of the Executive Tower and the cafeteria that used to be on the 4th floor of the 1740 building.  It doesn’t seem like that was 25 years ago- but life is funny that way. 

Our department’s core environmental health responsibilities include administering the statewide public health sanitation program for food safety, bottled water, hotels and motels, children’s camps, public schools, and public and semi-public swimming pools.  We delegate the actual inspection work to the county health departments.  Statewide, there are about 170 Sanitarians employed by the counties to inspect the restaurants and food stores in AZ. We finished our statewide FY ’11 Annual Report last week.  Last fiscal year the system completed about 75,000 food safety inspections among the 34,000 food establishments in AZ.