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Am J Public Health. 2008 Sep;98(9):1578-83. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.128488. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Legal and public health considerations affecting the success, reach, and impact of menu-labeling laws.

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Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University, 309 Edwards St, Box 208369, New Haven, CT 06520-8369, USA.


Because the rate of consumption of away-from-home meals has increased dramatically, the distinction between requiring nutrition information for packaged but not restaurant products is no longer reasonable. Public health necessitates that nutrition labels must be included with restaurant menus as a strategy to educate consumers and address the escalation of obesity. Menu-labeling laws are being considered at the local, state, and federal levels, but the restaurant industry opposes such action. We discuss the public health rationale and set forth the government's legal authority for the enactment of menu-labeling laws. We further aim to educate the public health community of the potential legal challenges to such laws, and we set forth methods for governments to survive these challenges by drafting laws according to current legal standards.

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