Ignorance may not be bliss, at least when it comes to calories, so the US Food and Drug Administration will soon require calorie counts for everything from chain restaurants to movie-theater popcorn to vending machines. The rules stemmed from the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, and were initially proposed in 2011, but the FDA delayed the final rules for three years in the face of industry opposition. Compliance will now be required by late this year, with vending-machine companies getting an extra year.
When the regulations were finally released, they proved much tougher than many analysts had expected. In addition to chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets, calorie counts will be required for cinema concessions, vending machines, amusement parks and prepared foods sold in supermarkets such as sandwiches and salads. Alcoholic beverages on restaurant menus, but not mixed drinks at a bar, must also disclose calories.