Florida Lawmakers Want to Require Sugar-Free Substitutes in Restaurants

More than a million Floridians are living with diabetes. It's a disease that doesn't have a cure, but it can be controlled and in some cases even prevented by simply cutting back on sugar, but that makes going out to eat tricky. Now some lawmakers want to expand your options at the table.

Fifteen years in business, and the menu here at Olean McCaskill's 'Home Cookin'' restaurant hasn't changed much. From fried chicken to collard greens and pancakes, if you want the staples, she's got them, but if you're looking for a light topping, well, good luck.

“We do have a lot of people that request low-fat syrup, low-fat jellies, and sometimes they will ask me and I'll say, 'no, we don't have that', you know,” she said.

Over the weekend, Olean picked up a bottle of reduced sugar jam, but a newly-filed bill would go even further, requiring restaurants to carry sugar-free substitutes for jelly, jam and marmalade.

Some tout 90 percent fewer calories and they're diabetic-friendly. The health benefits may be tremendous, but critics say a syrup crackdown would be akin to a new government mandate, another example of Tallahassee laying it on thick.

If the bill passes, the cost of doing business would undeniably go up. That is, for restaurants.

Demetrius Brown wonders if the jelly industry has its sticky hands in the legislative process.

“It's all the money game,” he said. “Someone's probably paying them to push it so that they can get those options out, probably, that's my only thing, 'cause I mean, as long as you still have options of regular syrups, people are still going to use it.”

...At least they do here at Olean's, where she says out of 100 customers a day, at most only three will ask for anything but the real stuff.

“The majority of the people want some sugar!” she said.

Still, it's not the healthiest habit to have, and at least a few lawmakers want to squeeze a new alternative onto your plate.

The bill would also require restaurants to show that they offer sugar-free syrup and jelly substitutes on their menu.


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