(March 24, 12:53 p.m.) The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to require all restaurant chains in the city with more than 20 locations to post nutritional information on their menus or posters.

The ordinance passed March 11, and restaurants have a 90-day grace period to comply. They can be fined up to $500 for each violation.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced the legislation because “the current system of voluntary nutritional disclosures by restaurants is inadequate and two-thirds of the largest chain restaurants fail to provide any nutritional information about their menu items to customers,” according to the ordinance.

Zack Tuller, legislative aide, said the ordinance would not affect mom-and-pop restaurants or chains with fewer than 20 locations. He said around 200 restaurants would fall under the ordinance.

“Included in the ordinance is a fee that will cover a half-time staff person to inspect,” he said.

The annual fee is $350 for each restaurant.

Tuller said contrary to skeptics’ claims that the ordinance is an attempt to legislated eating habits, it is only a piece of a bigger puzzle to better inform consumers about their choices.

“This has been touted by every major public health association in the country as the most useful tool that municipalities and states have to try to combat the problem of poor nutrition,” he said. “But we can’t force consumers to do anything. We hope they’ll make more informed choices.”

Kelly Benedetti, vice president of state and industry relations for Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association, said the industry is opposed to nutrition labeling on menus.

On March 26, California’s Senate Health Committee in Sacramento will consider legislation that would enforce menu nutrition labeling statewide. The California Restaurant Association, Sacramento, is mounting a write-in campaign in opposition.

“If we’re going to have to face legislation, we’re more supportive of a variety of alternatives, whether it is a kiosk in the store or a brochure at the point of sale,” Benedetti said.

New York City adopted similar legislation and a council member in Chicago is attempting to mandate menu labeling there, she said.

In Seattle, the King County Board of Health also adopted regulations to add nutritional information to menus of area restaurants after negotiating with the Washington Restaurant Association. The regulations take effect August, according to news reports.