SHAFAQNA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently released an order requiring all chain restaurants and amusement parks to display the calorie counts of the items in their menus. This mandate was made in accordance with the fight of the United States government against obesity, which is a prevalent condition in the country.
“Obesity is a national epidemic that affects millions of Americans,” disclosed Margaret Hamburg, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner. In addition, Hamburg revealed that Americans consume roughly one-third of their calories in establishments outside their homes.
Health experts attribute this problem to the rising sizes of portions served in some establishments, as well as the practice of using unhealthy items to the dishes, as potential major contributory factors. To offer a solution to this growing health problem, the FDA ordered all business establishments that serve food and have at least 20 locations nationwide to “clearly and conspicuously” display the calorie content of their menu items.
Apart from this, business owners are also instructed to willingly provide other nutritional information, such as calories obtained from protein, fat, sugars, and cholesterol, if customers seek the data. These shall be made available in writing as well.
This new rule does not only include restaurants as mandated by its 2011 counterpart, but also amusement parks and movie theatres. It also requires restaurants serving alcoholic beverages to display the calorie count of such drinks while meals covered by this new guideline include all served at sit-down restaurants, pizza, bakery products, and ice cream, and take-out dishes. However, seasonal dishes, such as those served during Thanksgiving dinners, are exempted from the rule. Calorie count information for standard condiments and mixed drinks or beverages offered at a bar are not required as well. The information displayed will be based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
In implementing this new rule, the FDA officials seek to discourage people from consuming unhealthy food once they see the calorie count of every item. In addition, the new guideline will inspire business owners to opt for healthier ingredients and menu items to show lower calorie count. Following the publication of this new mandate in the Federal Register, businesses covered by the new rule will be given one year to comply.
In response to this latest decree, Dawn Sweeney of the National Restaurant Association expressed the group’s agreement with the new rule.
“We believe that the Food and Drug Administration has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern,” shared the association’s chief executive. Sweeney’s group represents approximately 990,000 restaurant and food-service outlets.
However, CEO Peter Larkin of the National Grocers Association disclosed the group’s dismay over the new rule.
“We are disappointed that the FDA’s final rules will capture grocery stores, and impose such a large and costly regulatory burden on our members,” shared Larkin.