The big news in Western Washington today is that Seattle's King County Board of Health has mandated that chain restaurants with 10 or more locations must post nutritional labeling on their menus and eliminate trans fats. This is all done under the pretense of improving health and fighting obesity, but is so monumentally stupid that I can't help but wonder if anybody on the Board of Health has a grip on reality.
Banning the trans-fats I get. Trans-fats are evil and should be destroyed.
But being forced to put calorie, fat, sodium and carbohydrate information on your menu in full-size type? Did anybody bother to think this through? Ordering at a fast-food restaurant can already be a confusing, time consuming task to many people... what happens when the menu board has to be twice as big to accommodate all this extra shit? Does anybody really need to be told that a veggie salad with lite dressing is a more healthful meal than a triple hamburger loaded with cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise? Is this really going to come as a huge revelation once the menus have changed? When Taco bell alters their menus, are people going to die of shock that deep-fried dishes covered in sour cream and cheese have fat in them? Really? People can claim ignorance, but is that an excuse to punish the restaurants?
I mean, seriously, look around. Food manufacturers have already spent billions of dollars updating their product packaging with Nutrition Facts (twice!), yet medical cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease show no sign of slowing down. If people won't take the time to study nutrition intake while they are eating at home, why should anybody expect that they'll bother to take the time while at the McDonalds drive-up? This is yet another case of trying to crack an egg with a sledgehammer, burdening companies with major expenses to initiate changes that will have little (if any) effect.
Do I think restaurants should be required to provide nutritional information to their customers?
I think it is perfectly reasonable that consumers be informed as to what they are eating. As a vegetarian, this is something I can appreciate. Not only should customers have access to nutritional information at a restaurant, but a complete list of ingredients as well.
But let's be realistic here.
There's no reason that restaurants can't hand over a brochure or pamphlet with this information for those who request it. Why force everybody to change their menus and reader boards? This is not only impractical, but a very dangerous precedent as well. If people don't care enough to take an interest in their own health and can't be bothered to ASK for nutritional information of their own free will when they need it, then too damn bad. I am tired of government deciding I am too f#@%ing stupid to figure out for myself what constitutes a proper diet. So long as the information is made available upon request, demanding a restaurant to go through all this extra expense is grossly unfair.
I say that if restaurants are required to deface their menus with this shit, that EVERY F#@%ING TIME politicians and local government officials appear in media... from newspapers and television appearances to personal correspondence and an election ballot... that their salary should be listed after their name. Knowing how much money these power-abusive idiots make to come up with this stupid crap is information that could really make a difference.