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James Reilly, Ireland's Minister for Health

Irish health minister wants to adopt NY-style health laws

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James Reilly, Ireland's Minister for Health

Minister for Health James Reilly is looking for Ireland to adopt some of  New York's public health laws in an aim to curb the high levels of obesity and diseases in the country.

Official have contacted Mayor Bloomberg's office for advice, and the minister has been writing to fast food operators in Ireland to ask them to label their menus with the calorie content, reports the Irish Independent.

A sugar tax on certain foods, such as soft drinks is also being taken into consideration.

In the last few years, New York has introduced several new health laws to fight obesity and disease.

In 2008, a law was passed requiring restaurant chains to post calorie information on their menus, and in 2009, the mayor enacted the first restriction on artificial trans fat in the the city's food service establishments.

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Mr. Reilly attended a United Nations meeting in New York last week on the role of the food and beverage industry in combating non-communicable diseases.

In Ireland, the Special Action Group on Obesity is examining several option to tackle obesity levels.

"The introduction of a sugar tax on sugar-sweetened drinks was identified as a strategy for consideration and the feasibility of introducing such a measure is being examined. They [the Special Action Group on Obesity] are not considering the introduction of a junk food tax at this stage," a spokesman for the minister confirmed.

"Officials from the Department of Health met with representatives from the food industry during the summer and the minister now intends writing to fast food operators in Ireland asking that they introduce this calorie posting in their Irish restaurants. This initiative was first introduced in the US, and it has recently been replicated in the UK in a deal between the British government and industry."

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