NYC calorie-count rule effective immediately: court

NEW YORK Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:24am EDT

A man takes a bite from a hamburger in Hollywood, California October 3, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A man takes a bite from a hamburger in Hollywood, California October 3, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court said on Tuesday that a new rule requiring New York City fast food restaurants to post calorie information on menu boards is effective immediately.

A spokeswoman for the city law department said the city expects restaurants to begin complying with the rule by midnight on Tuesday.

The health code provision, which affects businesses that have at least 15 establishments nationwide, requires that restaurants post caloric information on menus and menu boards in the same font and format used to display the name or price of the menu item.

In a lawsuit, The New York State Restaurant Association argued the rule is a violation of free speech and will make menus difficult to read.

After a judge ruled in the city's favor, the association asked an appeals court to delay the rule from taking effect until its appeal had been heard. That request was denied.

The city will begin imposing fines on restaurants that do not comply with the new rules after midnight on July 18.

A representative for the restaurant association was not immediately available for comment.

The two sides are due back in court on June 9, when the restaurant association will argue that the rule be thrown out.

"We are pleased that the court has recognized that this is an important public health initiative and that it should proceed forward while the Restaurant Association's appeal is pending," Fay Ng, a lawyer for the city said in a statement.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Todd Eastham)

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