As of Jan. 1 Washington state restaurants were required by law to provide nutritional information on the food items they serve.
The legislation is an effort to combat the rise of obesity, but saw opposition from some claiming it put the weight of costs to study food content on small businesses.
Kristi Kildare, manager and owner of Midtown Station in Sumner said her restaurant began displaying the nutritional information about eight months ago, when The Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department started offering free tests on the content of menu items. The health department partnered with the MultiCare Center For Healthy Living to provide the information to consumers.
To determine the content of the restaurant’s dishes, the recipes are recorded and the precise information is evaluated by a dietician who assesses calories, fat, sodium and carbohydrates.
The legislation provides different ways by which to make nutritional information available such as on a sign inside the restaurant, or printed on a separate sheet of paper than the menu itself, but the information is printed directly on the menu at Midtown Station.
Kildare said she hasn’t noticed a dramatic difference in the eating habits of customers since the information began appearing, but some customers cut calories by splitting an item between them.
“People don’t really order any differently, but I would say 90 percent of the people like it,” she said. “They all want to know what it means, but when people go out to eat they’re expecting to eat a lot of calories.”
Kildare said the change not only benefit people counting calories, but also help customers with special diets and make going out as a family easier.
“If you’re on a low-sodium diet, they can bring the whole family here,” Kildare said.
So far, she views it as a positive change.
“I haven’t seen any downside. The response has been very good overall.”