Fast-food battle moves to Southern California
Faced with fresh assaults on fast food from politicians and anti-obesity activists, the restaurant industry is gearing up to fight back, emphasizing the role fast-food businesses have played in providing jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Starting next year, major chain restaurants in California will have to include calorie counts of items on menus. Last week, San Francisco officials passed the so-called Happy Meal ban, which forbids toys to be included with meals that don't meet nutritional standards. Santa Clara County had earlier approved such a ban.
Now the battle switches to Southern California, where the city of Los Angeles wants to bring back -- and tighten -- restrictions on establishing new fast-food restaurants in some minority neighborhoods where obesity is a significant health problem.
The measure unanimously passed the Los Angeles Planning Commission last month and is expected to be taken up by a City Council committee later this month. Behind the scenes, lobbyists have been working City Hall, pointing out that McDonald's, Burger King and other franchises have brought jobs, management training and entrepreneurial opportunities to many disadvantaged people in those very same communities.
-- Sharon Bernstein
Photo: Associated Press