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Senate panel OKs state cafeteria food proposal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Take a whiff of the Iowa Capitol cafeteria, and it's clear plenty of people are ignoring the salad bar and opting for cheeseburgers.

Des Moines Sen. Janet Petersen said she's got nothing against burgers, but wants diners in the state buildings, public universities and community colleges to have healthier choices, as well as have nutritional facts displayed on menus and provide foods that meet American Heart Association guidelines.

A Senate subcommittee approved the bill Wednesday, sending it to a full committee.

Petersen, a Democrat, said the proposal follows the lead of Gov. Terry Branstad's initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

Stacy Frelund, government relations director at the American Heart Association in Iowa, said it's all part of the effort to help people live healthier lives.

"When you go to the cafeteria, I can taste the butter and oil in the sandwiches and I can taste all of salt that's in the food," Frelund said. "I think it could be prepared better than it is now."

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the governor is committed to his goal and would review the measure to "determine if it will help in that goal."

The proposal would require government cafeterias to post the counts of calories, sodium and saturated fat on menus and meet American Heart Association guidelines that limit calories for snack foods, entrees and meals. A hamburger couldn't exceed 500 calories and a whole meal plate must stay under 750 calories. Vendors would also be required to change their method of preparation, such as using less fattening cooking oils, lean meats and poultry without skin.

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