Calorie Counts Coming to Chains
It will soon be harder to ignore the caloric carnage of that fast-food burger, fries and shake youíre ordering. A new FDA proposal, an outgrowth of last yearís health overhaul, will mandate calorie counts on menus at 280,000 establishments nationwide. The rules, which could take effect by 2012, would require menus to list calories for every item at chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets, along with bakeries, grocery stores with prepared foods, convenience stores, coffee chains and even vending machines. Locations where food isnít the primary business would be exempt, such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and airplanes. Alcohol is also exempt, but not soft drinks. Nutritional data beyond calories, such as sodium and saturated-fat content, would have to be available on request. In releasing the proposed rules, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg pointed out that Americans now consume about one-third of our total calories from foods prepared outside the home. The National Restaurant Association endorsed the rules, saying they would provide consistency for consumers.