If you count your calories so you can maintain a healthy and balanced diet, you probably appreciate the calorie labeling at your favorite cafes and restaurants. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making new changes to calorie labeling, and starting May 7th, it may look a bit different. Here’s what you need to know about the new calorie labeling laws for menus and vending machines.
The Affordable Care Act has new requirements when it comes to calorie labeling. Therefore, chain restaurants or food establishments with 20 or more locations, along with companies who operate 20 or more vending machines, now have until May 7th to comply with the new calorie label changes.
What’s changing? Previously, calorie labeling listed the total amount of calories per item. Therefore, if you went to a cafe and read the caloric information for a latte, you saw all the calories in the entire drink. Now, businesses can simply list the amount of calories per serving, even If the item in question is a multi-serving item.
In addition, restaurants that provide carry-out and delivery services, now have more freedom and flexibility when it comes to the location of their calorie information.
For example, they can now publish information online, rather than in the establishment’s physical location. According to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, “This legislation…makes it easier for customers to actually see and understand the information because it’s displayed where customers actually place orders – including by phone, online, or through mobile apps.”
However, some argue that these new calorie labeling rules might take it harder for customers to make informed decisions about just how many calories they’re consuming. Colin Schwartz, who is the deputy director of legislative affairs, said that when restaurants list total calories per item, they can adapt to their customer’s wants and needs.
For example, in listing total calories, restaurants sometimes obsesve a decline in certain entrees. But they act accordingly. So, if the calorie count deters people from ordering an item, they reformulate the recipe to contain fewer calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The calorie labeling creates an unspoken diet, and restaurants use it to create better menu options for their clients.
With these new changes, there is a concern that food establishments will no longer be able to cater to the public’s interests in healthier menu choices.