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A Starbucks menu reveals the caloric value of your coffee. [Flickr: pnoeric]

  • The restaurant industry is pushing back against the health insurance mandate recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act requires that operators with 50 or more full-time employees offer affordable health insurance to their employees, or pay a fine per worker. Owners of franchise restaurants argue that this places an undue burden on their businesses.
  • And on another healthcare-related note, Marion Nestle reminds us that the ACA also includes a provision that makes calorie labeling a national policy. Menu labeling had previously been implemented on a regional basis. The rule applies to chains with 20 or more locations, and also to vending machines.
  • The soda industry has begun lobbying around New York City to protest Mayor Bloomberg's recent proposal to limit the sale of soda containers larger than 16 ounces in the city. The industry is fighting the proposed ban through canvassing, television ads, and meetings with public officials. Advertisements attempt to appeal to New Yorkers' sense of pride and independence, framing the soda restriction as a limitation to personal freedom.
  • NPR has a great set of infographics related to meat consumption and production in the U.S. The data shows how much water, land, and energy is required to produce a quarter-pound hamburger. Graphs also indicate that meat consumption has increased five-fold in the last 100 years, but that the number of cattle raised in the U.S. has decreased. This is attributed to the great increase in poultry consumption and decrease in red meat consumption.
  • As the Farm Bill continues to be reshaped for the 2012 voting cycle, much attention is being paid to improving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (otherwise known as food stamps). One of the main barriers to evaluating this program, however, is that the government will not release information on how SNAP benefits are used by participants. Many public health advocates and industry representatives consider that data to be extremely important.

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.

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