The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a piece of legislation in the health care bill that would require chain restaurants to display calorie counts in their menus.
These menu-labeling requirements would be implemented in any chain restaurants that have 20 or more locations. They also apply to vending machine products whose labels are not clearly visible from outside the machine.
The FDA hopes that these requirements will deter consumers from purchasing those delicious fast-food french fries and burgers. Why? According to the USDA, in 2009, Americans spent 42% of their food budget on eating-out. And eating-out means more calories, fat, and cholesterol.
By 2012, the FDA estimates that calorie counts would be displayed at menus in approximately 280,000 separate establishments.
Many chain restaurants do make their calorie information available, but often on the packaging of the food item (for instance, on the wrapper). The FDA hopes that by printing calories plainly on menus, people will notice them as they are making their meal decision.
Exceptions still under debate are movie theaters (and other venues whose main product is not food), airplane food, and alcoholic beverages.
Here at Moveable Feast, we are glad that the FDA is pushing for transparency about calorie amounts! We support anything that helps Americans make wiser food choices.