Abiding by the (Calorie) Law
It’s been years in the making, but it’s finally here. The FDA’s Menu Labeling Legislation went into effect on May 7 and requires establishments with 20 or more locations to post calories for all items sold more than 60 days out of the year.
So what does that mean?
Well, this is the reason you’ve seen calorie information popping up at your favorite coffee shop, on restaurant menus, even at the movie theater and your grocery store salad bar. Many establishments have acted ahead of the curve, but now that the FDA mandate is official, you’ll see more widespread calorie information.
“Since we still have many questions around how the regulations will be interpreted and enforced we are pleased that FDA has stated their intention to educate restaurants and foodservice establishments during this first year of implementation without issuing penalties,” says Deanne Brandstetter, Vice President of Nutrition & Wellness for Compass Group.
While posting calories may not resolve our country’s obesity epidemic, it does provide consumers with more information at the point of purchase. And as the saying goes, “Information is power.”
However, calorie information is only useful if you know what a calorie is. Many consumers may not realize that 750 calories for one sandwich is a lot. For reference, the USDA recommends the average adult consumes about 2,000 calories per day. Pair that sandwich with a side and drink and you’re likely consuming about half your day’s calories in one sitting.
So next time you dine out – even in your FLIK café – look for calorie information and use it to influence the food and beverage choices you make.
Keep in mind, nutrition information is only required for standard daily menu items, so if calories aren’t listed, use your best judgement. A good rule of thumb when looking for lower-calorie items: Choose plant-based foods, such as a veggie egg white omelet, oatmeal with berries, a sandwich topped with veggies and paired with carrot sticks, or enjoy the bounty of the salad bar.
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Written by Tracy Wilczek, MS, RD, LDN