How do you choose your favorite meal in the restaurant? Are you driven by price, ingredients or fancy name of the dish? Well! Soon you will be having one more option to choose your meal. Under the new regulation restaurants and vending machine owners have to post calories in their menu. The step was taken by Food and Drug Administration to address the obesity and overweight, which has become a major health concern for health authorities and health professionals.
Nutritional labeling on restaurant menu
The new federal requirements for nutritional labeling were set under “The Affordable Care Act”, which was signed into law in March 2010. The guidelines require that calorie information should be posted on the menu in the same size type as the menu item or price, whichever is larger. So that consumers can compare foods quickly, not only on the basis of price, ingredients or fancy names, but also based on calories count and make judgment on healthy options.
For example if someone has high blood pressure who wants to eat low sodium food, he/ she can easily compare the nutrition label and choose the food with low sodium content. Having nutrition label will give liberty to consumers to consume food that best meet their health condition.
The new regulation will exempt daily specials, custom orders and items appearing on a menu for less than 60 days to display calorie information.
Nutritional labeling on Vending machines
Vending machines would also required to display the information in a “clear and conspicuous” manner, so that consumers could review it before making a purchase, according to the guidelines, which were authorized by the healthcare legislation passed this year.
About federal regulation for labeling
FDA’s draft guidelines require restaurants and food chains with more than 20 locations and vending machine operators with more than 20 machines to post the calorie information in the menu. The proposed guidelines are preliminary and could be amended...
after a 45-day public comment period. The FDA said it realizes the industry will need time to comply with the new provisions, so it “expects to refrain from enforcement action for a time period that will be provided in the guidance once it is finalized.”
Restaurants and new labeling guidelines
As we discussed the new guidelines target restaurants and food outlets with 20 or more locations, and would affect huge multi-national chains like McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) and Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut fast-food chains.
Other companies likely to be affected include Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), Olive Garden and Red Lobster owner Darden Restaurants Inc (DRI.N), and IHOP and Applebee’s parent Dine Equity Inc and more. Privately-held Subway, a sandwich chain has already been displaying calorie counts prominently in their restaurants. Panera Bread Co (PNRA.O) in March began adding calorie counts to its menu boards ahead of the national requirements.
I am fascinated with the steps taken by FDA as having the nutrition choice on menu will enable consumers to make better judgment of healthy food choice. The new regulations might affect some business corporations especially Mc Donald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and others whose products are rich in calories, but it might give them incentive to bring some healthy foods for the consumers. There have been various food products available in the market with nutritional labels targeting different consumers like low sodium, sodium free, sugar free, low sugar, gluten free and so on. The popularity of these products indicates that consumers may increase visit to restaurants if they know they can eat outside with desired calorie levels.