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Allegheny Co. Health Dept. Encourages Healthier Options At Local Restaurants

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- This area is full of great restaurants, but we don't always know or choose the healthiest items on the menu.

"It depends on if I'm on a diet or not," says Anna Roberts of Sewickley.

"It's important to have a variety of food, whether it would be healthy or unhealthy. Options are good," adds Jeff Kuklinski of Sewickley.

To encourage more healthy options, on Monday, Allegheny County Health Department director Dr. Karen Hacker partnered with the local chapter of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

"The idea is to identify some restaurants that voluntarily want to make some changes that we consider to really help improve the health of our residents," Dr. Hacker told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

County officials say that under this voluntary program, restaurants that choose to offer more healthy options will get a special decal for their door as well as be listed on the Live Well Allegheny website.

The decal will look like a seal, but to be designated a Live Well Restaurant, besides no trans fats, they must offer some of the following.

  • Calorie counts, including sodium, on menu items
  • Low calorie substitutes on main and side dishes
  • Half portions on select menu items
  • Vegetarian/vegan fare
  • Brown rice, quinoa, whole grains instead of white rice
  • Low calorie salad dressings
  • Skim or one percent milk as alternate to cream
  • Smaller sized soda beverages with no refills
  • Healthy kids menu
  • Rack or storage area for bikes

"A lot of the restaurants are doing a lot of the things already," says Peter Landis, a restaurateur in town with the Big Y Restaurant Group.

Landis predicts customers will be attracted to the decal.

"You know that they are taking steps and strides to insure the health and better welfare for everyone. That's a place you want to support," he said.

And while your health may improve, it won't hurt your wallet, notes Vincent Sanzotti, the executive chef at the St. Clair Country Club and president of the western Pa. chapter of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

"It's not going to raise the price because they have this designation -- Live Well Allegheny -- at all," Sanzotti said.

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