Calorie Counts Are Now Mandatory On Menus And People Love/Hate It
Other nutritional information, such as fat and carbohydrate content, must be made available by restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses that sell food.
Starting on Monday, chain restaurants and other locations across the US that sell food, like coffeehouses and supermarket salad bars, will have to include calorie count information on their menus.
The rule is courtesy of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, and is being put into place uninhibited by the current administration. It applies to any restaurant chain with at least 20 locations that have the same name, and it's not just restaurants — the rule includes movie theaters, grocery stores, vending machines, and any location that provides food or drink.
Calories counts are now mandatory on menus, and other nutritional information, such as fat and carbohydrates, must be made available on the premises.
"Consumers can also ask these establishments for additional nutritional information — provided, for example, as a booklet, handout or in electronic form — that includes the amount of sodium, fiber, sugars, total carbohydrates, saturated fat and protein for any standard menu item," according to the FDA.
Although some places around the country have already made this labeling mandatory — notably, New York City — this is the first time it will be enforced nationwide. Some chains have already been providing this information, such as McDonald's, Panera Bread, and Starbucks.
The idea is that people can make healthier dietary choices if they know more about what they're consuming. According to the FDA, people consume about one-third of their calories outside the home.
Research suggests that including nutritional information on menus can reduce consumption by 30 to 50 calories a day, according to the Washington Post.
"I truly believe that knowledge is power and having information can allow consumers to make an informed choice," Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told BuzzFeed News.
She said it can be hard to know what's in restaurant food, so the new labeling is especially helpful to people who track what they eat.
"Many of my clients who are trying to eat healthy or trying to lose some weight or watching their blood sugars for diabetes ... if they have this information it’s something they can take into account," she said.
Not everyone's a fan though — some see it as government overreach and a burden on business owners. In 2011, Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Carl's Jr., said the rules are "one of these nanny state regulations that’s designed to solve a problem that isn’t really a problem at all."
For many people, however, it's a welcome change.
If you choose to listen, that is.
And some people would rather live in blissful ignorance.