New Menu Labeling Regulations By FDA Are A Huge Step In Calorie Awareness

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scaleThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized ruling requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, a ruling that will provide consumers with the information they need to make smart decisions for themselves and their families.

This FDA ruling is the next step in the long-awaited implementation of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s national requirement for all restaurant-type chains of 20 or more establishments to clearly post the calorie information for each standard item on their menus or menu board.

The FDA’s menu labeling initiative is in line with the thinking of Catherine Jones, award-winning cookbook author and chef, and Elaine Trujillo, MS, RDN, nutritionist, who are the authors of The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook. “We believe that providing accurate nutrition information to consumers who are interested in weight management can have a powerful effect on food selection and is a step in the right direction for overall calorie balance,” said Jones and Trujillo.

Calorie information will be required to be posted in restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type food.

The ruling comes in light of the fact that Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. Making calorie information available will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.

Restaurant-type establishments selling prepared foods for immediate consumption, such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, convenience stores and grocery stores also will be required to comply with these new guidelines. “If we can influence Americans when they are choosing popcorn at the movie theater or a sundae from an ice cream store, we can potentially make great strides in fighting obesity,” says Trujillo.

The posting of calorie information for standard menu items on menus and menu boards will be required, in addition to a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. Other calorie information, such as total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein, will have to be made available on request.

CATHERINE JONES is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous cookbooks including The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook, Eating for Pregnancy, and Eating for Lower Cholesterol. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Share Your Calories, an app developer, blogger, and a freelance journalist. ELAINE TRUJILLO, MS, RDN, is a nutritionist who has years of experience promoting nutrition and health and has written numerous scientific journal articles, chapters and textbooks.