Calorie counts at restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses with 20 or more locations that serve food are required to post calorie counts, starting today. This new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule comes after nearly a decade of delays.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had included a provision requiring calorie counts on menus when it was passed back in 2010. However, implementation was delayed several times over the past few years due to pushback from the food industry. In a statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the policy is designed to be “maximally beneficial to consumers” and “minimally burdensome to restaurants.”
Calorie Counts: Good For Everyone
It’s finally happening. After nearly a decade of delays, starting today, calorie counts on store sold foods are mandatory. These establishments will have to show how many calories come with each food item they sell.
In some stores, menu labeling is already happening. Several major chains moved in this direction voluntarily because the FDA was expected to rollout this regulation in 2010. So, a grande latte at Starbucks has 190 calories, the turkey, apple, and cheddar sandwich at Panera has 710 calories, and McDonald’s Big Mac packs 530 calories, for example.
Calorie Counts: Eating Out Is Our National Pastime
Americans do a lot of their eating outside of the home these days. More than half of the money spent on food goes to food establishments, not to groceries cooked at home.
People consume 20 to 40 percent more calories in restaurants compared to food they eat at home with what they’d eat at home. Furthermore, much of restaurant food contains high levels of salt, oil, and sugar. Great for your taste buds, but bad for your health. Restaurant dishes average 1,200 calories, about half of the recommended amount for women and men in an entire day. Consequently, dining out has been linked to the obesity epidemic.
Calorie Counts: FDA Steps Up To The Plate
Scott Gottlieb, new FDA Secretary, pledged his intention to go ahead with menu labeling. For that reason, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which had sued the FDA over menu labeling delays, put their lawsuit on hold in September.
And Gottlieb kept his word. He said the regulation was a win for consumers and a way to create products that are healthy and tasteful.
Menu labeling allows people an easy way to cut hundreds of calories with simple, split-second decisions.