Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Not Just Menus That Will Get New Calorie Labels

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It's Not Just Menus That Will Get New Calorie Labels

Article excerpt

Diners could soon see calorie counts on the menus of chain restaurants.

But will they be able to get that same clear information at grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters or airplanes?

The food industry is closely watching the Food and Drug Administration to see which establishments are included in the final menu labeling rules, which are expected this year.

The idea is that people may pass on that bacon double cheeseburger if they know that it has 1,000 calories. Or on the chili hot dog at the convenience store counter.

"There are three kinds of people," said Dr. Ralph Bysiek, clinical nutritionist at Vital Nutrition Clinic in Allendale. "People who eat whatever they want and whatever tastes good; people who have hit a wall or have health issues and are trying to fix themselves; or [healthy eaters] who can size up a meal just by looking at it."

The menu labeling, he explained, would benefit the second type of person - "the one who wants to do better but isn't very savvy."

Five places you may -- or may not -- see calorie labels once the rules kick in:

* Restaurants

The restaurant industry helped menu labeling become law as part of health overhaul in 2010. National chain restaurants wanted the federal standards because of an evolving patchwork of state and local laws that require calorie labeling and could have forced those outlets to follow different rules in different locations.

However, pizza restaurants, led by delivery giant Domino's, say it doesn't make sense to force their franchisees to order expensive new menu boards when few people walk into their brick-and-mortar outlets. They argue for putting the information online.

Bysiek argued however: "If it gives people more perspective to make conscious choices, why not?"

The rules will apply only to restaurants with 20 or more outlets. Bakeries, coffee shops and ice cream parlors are all expected to be included if they have enough stores to qualify. And good thing coffee shops are likely to be included, said Bysiek. That's where people typically load up on what he calls "hollow, bad calories."

"They're putting them down in crazy amounts to keep them going through the day because of the caffeine, but not realizing how much the sugar adds up. …

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