Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released news of two proposed regulations related to calorie labeling. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed into law last year, calorie and nutrition information in designated food establishments must be disclosed. Establishments with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name with nearly similar menu items will be effected by the new regulations. Since we already know nutrition calculations are derived from a variety of sources and serve more as an estimate then an exact number, can these new regulations really help us stay on track toward our goals?
One of the two proposed menu labeling rules will apply to fast service restaurants and casual dining establishments. They will also apply to non-traditional establishments such as coffee shops, bakeries, groceries, supermarkets, and convenience stores that sell food as well. However, movie theaters, airplanes, and bowling alleys that sell food but not as their primary focus of business will not have to abide by the proposed regulation. The proposed companion rule will apply to items sold in vending machines and require calorie information to be visible.
According to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., American's consume about one-third of their daily calories from foods prepared away from home. The new proposals are "designed to give consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information" when making selection away from home. These proposals attempt to apply the new law by:
The Bottom Line
The outlined proposals are in line with the discussions surrounding the bill last year. Many restaurants like Panera are leading the way with calorie facts on menus and have been since the law first passed. It is surprising to find non-traditional establishments that also sell food such as airplanes, bowling alleys and movie theaters exempt from the new rules. However, these aren't really good choices when eating away from home anyway and other strategies are usually recommended.
When you are planning to eat away from home, here are a couple tips that will still be important even with the enactment of new labeling laws.
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