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How Many Calories in That Frappuccino? FDA Wants to Make Sure You Know

How Many Calories in That Frappuccino? FDA Wants to Make Sure You Know

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines requiring chain restaurants and other businesses that serve food to post information about calorie counts on menu and menu boards. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, airplanes and other ‘establishments’ for whom selling food is not the primary business would be exempt. For the time being, bars and restaurants serving wine, beer and alcoholic beverages would not have to post calories counts, as a different federal agency, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, regulates them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 278,600 establishments out of an estimated 600,000 restaurants nationwide would be affected by the new regulations at a cost of approximately $1,100 to each restaurant, says the FDA. The guidelines—which must be posted in a “clear and conspicuous” font size and in a color that is “at least as conspicuous as” as the print for the menu item—will not appear until next year:

Under the guidelines, which are subject to change, eateries would have to inform customers that other nutrition information is available on request, including calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.

Calories would be disclosed on all menus and menu boards, including menu boards at drive-through locations, with the label “calorie” or “cal,” according to the rule. Calories for variable menu items, such as combo meals, would be displayed in ranges based on possible inclusions. For self-service foods like salad bars, calories would be listed per serving or per item on a sign next to the food.

Currently, some 20 states or cities have regulations requiring restaurants to post the calorie content of foods.

However, the jury is out as to whether posting calorie information for menu items helps in the fight against obesity. Says the Wall Street Journal

A 2009 study published in the journal Health Affairs didn’t find evidence menu labeling influenced total calories purchased by New Yorkers. A Stanford University study of New York City Starbucks found average calories per transaction fell by 6% after calorie labeling started.

Others point out that food is food, and it makes little sense to regulate some restaurants while exempting movie theaters where, as the New York Times points out, a large bucket of popcorn with butter can contain 1,500 calories, almost as much as the 2,000 calories that an average person consumes a day.

If you knew how many calories were in those steak tacos at Qdoba, would you still eat them?

 

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Photo of tacos from Qdoba by Shoshanah.

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131 comments

+ add your own
1:54PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

I'd like to know.

6:28AM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

USeful, though they could do with applying it to cinemas particularly as the food/drink portions are so insanely giant.

11:08AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

It's appropriate to make consumers aware of all health and nutrition information, including calories and fat grams. But when it comes to legislating what can be eaten, that is ridiculous!

3:07PM PST on Feb 14, 2012

I'm fine with them offering information but I don't want things banned just because it may shorten my life. I'm an adult so let me make my own decisions..just give me information.

8:28AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

hey, another great idea. Inform us.

7:17PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

thanks

9:23AM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

thanks

11:25AM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

hooray!

8:45AM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

HELPFUL!!!!

10:47AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

I'm 200% for it. People don't realize how much the eat, and with these restaurants will be more inclined to offer correct portion sizes and find ways to make food healthier!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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