Monday, April 04, 2011

Counting Calories

This time next year, you might see calorie information displayed next to food products sold in chain restaurants, convenience stores, concession stands and vending machines across the nation. Essentially serving as the nation's first federal menu-labeling law, the rules were proposed last week by the Food and Drug Administration and are subject to a public comment period before they are finalized and implemented in 2012.

Under the regulations, any restaurant with 20 or more locations - which includes table-service establishments, fast-food outlets, bakeries and coffee shops - would have to prominently disclose calories on menus or drive-through boards. Other nutritional information, such as sodium and fat content, would be available upon request.

Vending machines would also have to clearly display the calorie counts for each item. However, movie theaters, bowling alleys, airplanes and other places where less than half the floor space is devoted to food sales would be exempt from the rules. FYI, a medium tub of unbuttered popcorn at Regal Theaters can contain 1,200 calories, according to a 2009 laboratory analysis ordered by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Menu labeling laws have already been passed in 18 states and cities, including California and New York City, and some restaurant chains already voluntarily provide the information. While most have applauded these efforts, some experts are skeptical the calorie information will cause people to make different choices.

What do you think? Will these mandatory menu labeling efforts have a positive effect on consumer eating habits? I want to hear from you on this topic!

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