The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Senator Padilla pitches bill for menus to list nutritional values

California Sen. Alex Padilla spoke to CSUN students April 3 regarding the necessity for the passage of a bill that would require restaurant chains to place nutritional information for food listed on their menus.

More than 75 people gathered to discuss Senate Bill 1420 at the Lakeview Terrace room in the University Student Union. The Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics, and CSUN’s Students Dietetic and Food Association organized the discussion.

Padilla cited a few statistics during the lecture, explaining to the audience that there are many health concerns in this state and more education is needed.

“There are 16 million Californians who are obese or overweight and therefore at risk for a number of diseases like diabetes (and) heart disease,” said Padilla.

Nutritional information is listed on food packages sitting on shelves at supermarkets, but people don’t have the same access to that information when they eat out, said Padilla.

The bill, if passed, would make it mandatory for food facilities to list the number of calories, the total grams of saturated and trans fat, the amount of sodium and carbohydrates for each of their standard items.

At fast food chains, the information would have to appear on the menu board, in addition to the brochures that costumers can currently request.

“Part of the goal here is to try to get this information out of cyber space, out from behind the counter and put it in a place that’s going to be most readily accessible and helpful,” said Padilla.

The original bill, SB-120, was vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it is back on the Senate floor. Senators are expected to vote on the bill as early as June.

During the lecture, a student asked Padilla if it would be more productive to help increase healthy options instead of explaining the nutritional information of unhealthy food.

Padilla said providing the information is the first step and that people need to be able to make their own choices as to what they are going to eat.

“I think once they start seeing some of the nutritional value of the foods that we eat, people’s ordering habits will change,” Padilla said. “I’m not presenting this bill as the silver bullet. Maybe labeling alone isn’t going to solve the health problems in America. I do believe it’s a part of the solution.”

Another student, Renee Liu, said she agreed with some of Padilla’s points about how this could also be an indirect way to have restaurants to improve their options.

Liu said that if people start buying only healthy food, restaurants would not profit from offering fatty foods on their menus.

“It’s up to us, and what we do will affect how the restaurants change,” said Liu.

The senator gave students a quick lesson about the legislative process and how a bill gets from the Senate to the governor’s desk.

Anna Abulyan, president of the Students Dietetic and Food Association, said she asked the senator to be a part of their lecture series not because he supports healthy initiatives, but because they want to help students understand more about the process.

Abulyan said the association seeks to help students make their voices valuable as well.

“As dietetics we are supposed to make a difference in the world,” said Abulyan. “That’s why we have this class and that’s why we brought him, so we can work with him.”

Padilla told audience members they could take part in the legislative process by writing, e-mailing or calling their local representatives to show support for any bill.

“The more public support there is, the more legislators have the governor’s influence that this is the right way to go,” said Padilla.

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