By Mara Gay
Supermarkets and large chain retailers in New York City will soon be required to post calorie counts for prepared foods under an expansion of the city health code.
The new rules, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration late Thursday, would apply to food retailers with at least 15 locations nationwide.
Beginning Monday, businesses like 7-Eleven and Whole Foods will be required to post calorie counts for standard menu items. They will also be required to make nutritional information about those meals available upon request.
"When we think about what's really killing New Yorkers before their time...is chronic diseases that are driven by poor nutrition," said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, first deputy commissioner with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in a phone interview.
The expansion of the city's health code is the latest measure in a decade-long push to improve New Yorkers' health that began under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has continued under Mr. de Blasio.
The city began requiring calorie counts at chain restaurants in 2008. In late 2015, it began requiring them to post a symbol of a salt shaker on the menu beside items that contain at least 2,300 milligrams of sodium.
New York adopted the newest rules in 2015, but hasn't implemented them until now because of a delay in the adoption of similar rules under consideration at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. On Thursday, city officials said they would move forward anyway.
"Every day that we delay is denying New Yorkers something that could improve their health," Dr. Barbot said.
Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations at the Food Industry Alliance, said the group opposes the expansion. Mr. Peltz said the grocery retailers he represents were particularly concerned that they would expend resources to comply with city rules that could then be made invalid with a change in the federal rules. And he questioned whether New York City had the jurisdiction to regulate grocery stores.
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