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NYC to require grocers to display calorie counts on prepared items

New rule comes only months after local minimum wage hike

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that each of the city’s chain retailers would need to post calorie counts for all prepared and “restaurant-type” foods.

“We are all tempted to make unhealthy choices, but with these new, common-sense rules, New Yorkers will have the information to make better choices and lead healthier lives,” de Blasio said.

“We can no longer wait for federal action, and urge other cities to follow our lead.”

Grocers that operate 15 or more locations nationwide will need to clearly display calorie counts for relevant items on menu boards and also have a rundown of full nutritional information for each selection available onsite.

A statement about the recommended daily caloric intake of 2,000 will also need to be visible.

These regulations are yet another obstacle for New York grocers to overcome as they face unique local pressures in addition to the sand traps plaguing the industry at large.

New York-based Key Food Stores posted flat comp sales for their most recent fiscal year ended April 29th. While discussing this at a store opening in Brooklyn, CEO Dean Janeway mentioned that New York’s recent minimum wage increase was on track to cost company-owned locations about $100,000 per year each.

“For independent supermarket operators, this is money right out of our pockets,” said Janeway. “The question is, how do they overcome it?"

In January, the minimum wage in the city reached $11 per hour, but it will hit $15 per hour in 2019.

It seems Janeway’s concerns would fall on deaf ears at City Hall.

"Requiring nutrition information to be posted at these businesses is common sense," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer via a prepared statement.

"Since we now have a federal administration opposed to common sense, I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for stepping up to make sure New Yorkers have the information they need to make informed decisions."

As Health Commissioner Mary T. Basset mentioned via statement, this is not the first time that New York has served as the city on a hill for nutritional transparency.

"Calorie labeling makes it easier for New Yorkers to learn more about the food they are consuming,” Bassett said.

"New York City led the way on requiring calorie labeling in chain restaurants nearly 10 years ago, and we are proud to continue this work by ensuring New Yorkers can access this important information at other types of establishments."

The policy will commence Monday when the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs will begin regular inspections.

During the initial months of the initiative, inspectors will be acting as educators rather than persecutors.

This buffer period will likely be needed.

When asked about the new regulations, John Catsimatides, CEO of the parent company that operates Gristedes and D'Agostino, said via a representative that he is still not familiar enough with the parameters to comment.

As of Aug. 21, stores that fail to comply will be subject to fines ranging from $200 to $600. The rule will impact about 1,500 food retailers.



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