Image by ShellyS via FlickrLast week's post on HB 1207 sparked a flurry of email. As with all issues, people are passionate, and there are also two sides. The bill would require "food establishments" with 20 or more locations in Indiana to provide full nutritional data for their items as well as calorie and carb counts on the menu (or menu board). Deb Scott, a restaurateur with 20 years of experience in the mid-range market (and in the interest of full disclosure, a vice president of the Indiana Restaurant Association,) sent a personal note on why she thinks the bill could be harmful to small business -- and not really get us the real data we need anyway:
"It's not the providing of information that restaurants have a problem with – many chains provide the information now. The issues are:
Cost: While everyone is thinking "chain," it is really brand that the bill covers. As you know, with any brand there is a franchisor and franchisees. While the franchisor may pay for nutritional analysis (but probably share that cost with the franchisees), a local small business owner who is a franchisee may own only one location in Indiana. He would be responsible for paying for all the other expenses such as printing menus, menu boards, drive-thrus, etc. Grocery delis, convenience stores and hotels are covered as well as local Indiana chains including MCL, Arni's, Pizza King, Sunshine Cafes.
Liability: Humans making the food. Items can be substituted by distributors. There is lots of room for error and no protection against frivolous lawsuits.
Inconsistency: While a chain may have paid for the requirements in New York, when Indiana or any other jurisdiction adds their spin, then there are more costs in analysis, more costs in changing menus.