Restaurants complain Metro Council healthy meals ordinance overreaching
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Broccoli or french fries? Grilled chicken or chicken nuggets?
Many times, getting children to choose healthier options when dining out isn't always easy. Now, a new Metro Council ordinance passed Thursday night, may help change that.
Passed on Thursday night in a narrow 13 to 11 vote, the healthier meals ordinance will require restaurants to put healthy options in kids meals unless the parents choose. For example, fries over broccoli. To be considered a kids meal, restaurants must include fresh fruit or vegetables, whole grains or lean protein.
The ordinance goes into effect in 120 days.
Supporters said they hope it leads to healthier choices for kids and parents, while opponents said parents can already make those choices and don't need government to step in.
WAVE 3 News caught up with parent Mills Sublett on Friday as she treated her kids, including preschooler Knox, to pizza to celebrate the last day of school.
Sublett allowed her kids to choose their own meal but agreed with many parents on controlling their kids' intake.
"Everything in moderation," Sublett said.
Many Metro Council members believed that's where it should end.
"The parents should have the discretion and it doesn't require a law on the books to say it has to be a certain way," Angela Leet, republican Metro Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate, said, along with 10 others Thursday night.
The bill's sponsor Vicki Aubrey Welch said the ordinance still allows choice. If the parent wanted fries instead of apples, all they would have to do is order it.
"It is a subtle change helping the families," Welch said. "Educating the families, giving them options. In many restaurants, they don't have options - it's all fried food."
Leet wasn't alone in thinking the move opens the door for more government regulation. Ideas like the ban of large sodas ultimately failed in New York City. Other opponents said it could hurt restaurants and families.
"Those restaurants not interested in passing on the expense may simply choose to remove children's meals from their menus," Councilman Kevin Kramer said in opposition of the ordinance.
Good arguments on both sides has Sublett split just like the council. She told WAVE 3 News she appreciates the healthy options but the decision should solely be left up to the parents.
"I think parents ultimately have the final decision on what their children are eating or not eating," Sublett said.
The Kentucky Restaurant Association opposed the ordinance. Popular restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse already offers healthy kids options but said telling a private business what they have to offer on the menu is overreaching.
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