The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new rules that will require restaurants and even vending machines to post the calorie content of all of the foods they sell. The rules apply to restaurant chains having 20 or more locations and include such places as bowling alleys, movie theaters and both fast-food and sit-down restaurants. Health advocates praise the move as a critical one in combating the nation’s obesity, but others wonder about the government adding even more restrictions and regulations to businesses.
Consumers expect product information
The calories must be listed on menus as well as menu boards. The list includes alcoholic mixed beverages that are listed on a menu in an establishment that serves food, but the rules do not apply to mixed drinks ordered at a bar. Vending machines, pizza parlors, movie theaters, bowling alleys are all places people go to have fun and relax. It remains to be seen if people will care or even notice how many calories they are consuming, especially during such leisure activities when they may feel they are “off-duty,” out to have a good time. However, the FDA says consumers are expecting to see the calorie counts on all their foods:
“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
The new rules take effect in a year, and go much farther than even consumer health advocates expected. Challenges to the rules are expected on the basis that they will create undue cost for businesses, especially smaller businesses, to bear.
Many fast-food restaurants have been making voluntary changes to improve the quality and health of their foods. Wendy’s recently changed to a new cooking oil with zero trans-fat. McDonald’s also recently reduced the amount of fat and calories in their chicken nuggets and has been presenting videos explaining how their chicken nuggets are made.
Are the voluntary changes enough, or should the government step in to force regulations?
Will the rules have the desired effect?
What do you think? Will you think twice about ordering the large, popcorn at the theater when you see that it will cost you about 1, 030 calories and 41 grams of fat? Add “butter” flavoring and increase that amount — what do you think? Health conscious citizens will most likely take notice, and may change their habits by switching to a small popcorn without butter and a diet soda instead of non-diet. But some people purposely avoid learning about the foods they eat because they claim they don’t want to change their diets and therefore don’t want to know the bad news. Will forcing the calorie count to be prominently placed and unavoidable also force a change in the behavior of people who have refused to pay attention thus far?