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FDA Won’t Require Chain Restaurants to Post Calories In Alcohol

FDA Won’t Require Chain Restaurants to Post Calories In Alcohol

The FDA’s new guidelines for menu labeling in chain restaurants and other business that serve food require these establishments to post the nutrition information that you’d find on the back of packaged foods.  In other words, the regulations that have been in place in New York City for the past few years, will be imposed across the country.  Restaurants with more than 20 locations must clearly post calories, saturated fat content, and other nutrition information next to the food they’re selling, in an attempt to educate consumers about the healthiness of their food.

However, there will be one noticeable omission; restaurants are not required to post the caloric content of alcoholic beverages.  That’s puzzling, considering, as blogger Peter Smith points out,

“Americans reportedly drink about 2.5 gallons of pure alcohol per person per year, according the World Health Organization’s latest data (PDF). That’s like doing 410 shots of 100-proof vodka over the course of the year, or slurping up about 11 pints of Budweiser every day.”

Regardless of whether you agree with posting nutrition information as a way to get Americans to think more about what they’re eating (I’m ambivalent, because I’m not convinced that calorie-counting is a good way to get people to begin eating more healthily, and may be damaging for people who have struggled with eating disorders), it’s bizarre that alcohol isn’t subject to these regulations, especially because it has absolutely no nutritional content.

“The problem is that alcohol is a big source of calories in the American diet,” explained Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  And they’re not just calories – they’re empty calories.  Wootan worries that omitting alcohol from nutrition information postings will “mistakenly give the impression that [they] are a better choice.”

If these new regulations are going to be completely effective, they have to include alcohol.  If consumers are going to be made aware of the nutrition information in all of the food they’re buying, to neglect alcohol is simply absurd.  Luckily, you can let the FDA know what you think.  If you agree that calories from alcohol should be posted alongside food (or don’t want calorie-counting to be emphasized at all), leave a comment for the agency here.


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11:15AM PDT on Oct 7, 2012

why not?

4:21AM PDT on May 14, 2011

It's 'hidden' calories that creep up on you. I'd like the chance to make an educated choice regarding what I eat and drink.

1:02PM PDT on May 11, 2011

Who cares? I know every time I swill my wine it adds an inch to my butt... duh

5:45PM PDT on May 1, 2011

The FDA, fully owned subsidiary of the alcohol, etc. industry, voting this way??? What a shock! As with ALL these regulatory organizations (headed by former lobbyists of the industry they're charged with overseeing), we'll soom have frankenfish, altered alfalfa,corn etc. and more mercury in the water, and continuation of BPS in plastic and lining cans. Red dye 40,Blue dye 1 and all other dyes, are toxic! FOR RAMAPANT GREED, WE'RE BEING POISONED FOLKS!

1:28PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Who cares! Most people imbibing of alcoholic beverages are not abusers and could care less what the caloric content is. Those they abuse alcohol could care less as well.

11:42AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011


9:31AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Thank you

9:12AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Drinkers know the caloric content of what they drink or don't care. Calorie counts of restaurant foods is an excellent idea, but why bother with alcohol?

7:47AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Here are some basic values for alcoholic drinks:

I'ts easy enough to 'guestimate' that 4 oz of wine is 65- 160 calories, and bottled drinks almost all have a calorie count on the label. As for mixed drinks, the contents can be so highly variable that you can't really expect every little bar to pay for analysis of every concoction they serve. If you know that that you are likely to order a gin & tonic or a martini, look up the calories before you go.

7:40AM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

Alcoholic beverages already have their alcohol contents in % or degrees, people are not stupid (unless they drink too much of it :-) ). That should be enough.

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