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Restaurants want produce industry's help

LAS VEGAS (April 28, 2010 - The Packer)—The list of ailments being blamed on the restaurant industry is a growing one that includes hyperactivity in kids, obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart problems and more.

As a result, the industry is dealing with more regulation than in the past, most recently with passage of the LEAN Act, included in health care reform legislation. The act requires restaurants to post nutrition information on menus nationwide.

A number of cities, regions and states already have passed or are in the process of passing similar requirements. The lack of uniformity was getting expensive, said Kim Eifler, director of purchasing for Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Inc., owner of Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants.

To work with the new standards and regulations, the foodservice industry is seeking help from the produce industry to make produce more appealing, and put produce at the center of the plate, Eifler said.

The need for uniformity across the nation is one of the reasons Darden sponsored and supported the LEAN Act. It had already been through trans fat bans of a few years ago, and realized that the foodservice and retail industries work differently when it comes to labeling nutritional information.

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