How many calories?! FDA outlines new rules for labeling menus

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(Nov. 25, 2014) – Soon, you’ll know exactly how many calories you’re eating—whether you want to or not.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced final rules regarding calorie labeling. The rules require chain restaurants and large vending machine operations to tell you exactly how many calories are in the food you’re buying.

Establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations must post calorie counts “clearly and conspicuously” on menus and menu boards, the FDA says. The directive also affects convenience stores, movie theaters, bakeries, coffee shops, amusement parks and vending machines.

Some foods—such as seasonal menu items, daily specials and condiments—are exempt from the labeling requirements.

Certain alcoholic beverages listed on menus must also include nutrition information.

Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home, according to the agency. The rules are designed to raise awareness about obesity and encourage people to eat a balanced diet.

The FDA considered more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers. The agency narrowed the scope of foods to focus on restaurant fare and made adjustments such as labeling pizza by the slice instead of the whole pie. The FDA also gave businesses additional time to comply with the changes.

Restaurants and similar food establishments will have a year to make the changes. Vending machine operators—who will have to disclose calorie information for food sold from their machines—have two years to comply.

Establishments must be able to provide, on request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

Source: FDA