Senate Bill Seeks Calorie Count in Restaurant Menus

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A measure has been filed in the Senate seeking to require food establishments to display calorie and other nutritional information in their menus to help address obesity and improper nutrition among Filipinos.

In filing Senate Bill 738, Sen. Joel Villanueva cited a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the DOST showing that as of 2019, around 27 million Filipinos are overweight and obese, especially in highly urbanized cities in Metro Manila.

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"There is a need to create policies that would encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle and a mechanism to inform them of the calorie content and nutritional information of the food they take," Villanueva said.

"This bill requires the disclosure of calorie content in menus of food service establishments and prominently display this information so that customers will be able to make a more informed decision towards a proper and healthier lifestyle," he added.

Under the measure, the calorie content information should be displayed adjacent to the name or price of the menu item that is easily readable. Aside from calorie content, the following nutritional information should also be available upon request:

  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrates
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Sugars
  • Dietary fiber
  • Total protein

Food establishments covered by the measure include those that are part of a chain of 15 or more food service establishments doing business under common ownership or control, or as franchised outlets of a parent business.

These also include food establishments that do business under the same name or that voluntarily register with the Food and Drug Administration.

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The calorie content information should be expressed to the nearest five-calorie increment up to 50 calories, and to the nearest ten-calorie increment above 50 calories. For food items with fewer than five calories, the declaration can be expressed as zero.

Covered food establishments have one year from the approval of the measure to comply with its requirements. Those who fail to do so, or are found making false declarations of nutritional information on their menus, will be slapped with a fine of P20,000 to P250,000.

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