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Calorie counts may be required on restaurant menus soon

Teresa Tanoos's picture
FDA to soon issue label rules for restaurants and elsewhere

If you are a calorie counter, you’ll appreciate knowing that you could soon see how many calories are in the dishes you order at restaurants and elsewhere, as soon as the FDA releases its final food label rules, which is expected to happen sometime this year.

There are five other major locations where calorie labels on food items may be required: 1) restaurants; 2) supermarkets; 3) convenience stores; 4) movie theaters; 5) airplanes, trains and vending machines.

The reason for adding calorie counts to menus and labels on foods sold at these five locations is to help people monitor how many calories they are actually consuming, as it may cause them to think twice before ordering that double-decker, triple cheese pepperoni pizza if they find out just how fattening it really is.

Food Industry Is In Waiting Mode

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In the meantime, the food industry is waiting to see which establishments will be included in the final rules, while non-restaurant stores have been lobbying strenuously to ask the FDA to exempt them from the rules for food food items sold at their locations. This has resulted in the FDA postponing the release of its labeling rules.

Earlier this month, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg admitted to Congress that writing the rules has been much more challenging than expected. In 2011, for example, the FDA issued proposed food labeling rules, only to end up facing pressure by grocery and convenience store retailers wanting exemption from any rule that requires them to provide calorie count labels on foods.

FDA Has Already Sent The Rules To White House

Recently, the FDA sent the rules to the White House, which could be a sign that the rules may be released in the near future. Once the final rules are announced, you could see calorie count labels on foods at establishments required to provide them as soon as six months later.

SOURCE: Food and Drug Administration, News Release: FDA proposes draft menu and vending machine labeling requirements, invites public to comment on proposals, published April 1, 2014.