CHARLESTON — Eating biscuits and doughnuts Tuesday while debating a proposed mandatory calorie posting bill for fast-food restaurants was less than professional, one sponsor said.

“I take this job very seriously,” Senate Health and Human Resources Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, told reporters upon learning about a House panel that met earlier in the day.

“I don’t like to see things like that occur in light of the seriousness of this issue.”

Some delegates ate Tudor’s biscuits produced by former Sen. Oshel Craigo, and doughnuts made by Krispy Kreme.

Killed by the House Government Organization Committee was a bill Prezioso helped sponsor that called for calorie posting at the point of purchase in fast-food outlets.

The measure would have applied to Craigo’s outlets since it covers any chains with at least 15 stores. A Senate version excluded him since it was applicable to only fast-food diners in at least 10 other states.

“We shouldn’t make a sham out of anything we do down here,” Prezioso said when asked about the delegates munching on the breakfast treats, carried into the room by Delegate Mike Ross, D-Randolph.

“When you come down here, you have to be very professional about it. We don’t shed a very good light in the public’s eye the way it is by some of the things that occur down here.”

Some senators, apprised of what occurred, felt the bill’s opponents were making a statement to Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, the chief sponsor, as he sat in the room listening to the lengthy debate.

“This was a serious issue,” Prezioso said. “It’s not something to be made light of.”

Prezioso was disappointed by the bill’s failure but said one positive outcome was that it raised an awareness among the public with regard to fast-food fare.

“I’ve had several people come up to me and say they’re more cognizant of what they consume now when they go to fast-food restaurants,” he said.

“They didn’t believe that when they went in there. They were consuming those enormous amounts of calories. Light was shed on this issue.”

Prezioso held out hope the federal government will act to make calorie posting a national law.

In the interim, he called for more individual responsibility to eat wisely to combat the problem of obesity, a major health detriment in West Virginia.

Prezioso predicted that fast-food chains, already departing from the menus of the past, will move more in the direction of healthier fare.

“I think that will be consumer-driven, anyway,” he said.

“People are more aware now. But I think we could have been ahead of the curve. We could have been an example for the federal government. We missed a golden opportunity.”

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