A private member’s bill initiated by Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman to require restaurants and cafés with at least five branches around the country to list the calorie counts of all the dishes they serve was rejected on Sunday by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
Prof. Itamar Grotto, head of public health at the Health Ministry, had told The Jerusalem Post earlier on Sunday that he was optimistic that it would be approved for the legislation process, but he was mistaken.
An aide to Lipman said the MK was very disappointed, noting that attendance by party representatives was meager. Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach voted in favor, and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid sent a message that he was in favor.
“It was a very amateurish session,” said Lipman’s aide, adding that within only a few seconds with and almost no discussion, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar voted it down.
The Lipman aide said “it wasn’t discussed properly. The fast-food chain McDonald’s and café chain Aroma were in favor of the bill, as their branches already give calorie counts. Calorie listings are available in restaurants and cafés around the world.”
It will be another six months before the proposal can be brought again to the committee, said the aide, unless Health Minister Yael German pushes for the bill or officials in the ministry get around it by promoting changes in regulations.
Grotto said that if foods offered in eating places were given with their calorie counts, many customers would prefer the less-fattening dishes, suggesting as an example that instead of a cake, they could take a fruit salad.
“Most people will prefer fewer calories, and there would be pressure on eating places to offer less-fattening food,” he said.