Nutrition: Laws Can Help with Calorie Counts, but It's Up to You to Be Proactive

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), April 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

Nutrition: Laws Can Help with Calorie Counts, but It's Up to You to Be Proactive


For years now, many restaurants and other eating establishments throughout California have been required to post calorie content of foods on menus to be in compliance with the state menu labeling law.

Calorie information has been made available to help consumers make informed and healthy food choices. California, along with some other states and localities, are leading the charge when it comes to restaurant menu labeling.

If you plan to be traveling out-of-state during the busy spring and summer travel season, you will likely notice this calorie information lacking at many restaurant locations. Just recently the Food and Drug Administration said it would be delaying enforcement of national menu calorie labeling, again, until 2017.

Initially, these rules were passed in 2010 as a part of the Affordable Care Act, but now, many years later, there is no uniform method to help people across the country make better food choices when dining out.

Some companies, like Subway for example, have met the national requirements before the deadline and already offer calorie information at the point-of-purchase in all restaurant locations. Many grocery stores, convenience stores and other retailers have slowed the process stating the excessive burden they feel the law places on them considering their larger and often more complicated offerings.

The law will eventually require all restaurants and food establishments that sell prepared foods and have twenty or more locations to clearly post the calorie content of food on menus and menu boards.

Since the majority of us are dining out at least once per week and many people eat out more often than that, availability of reasonable restaurant food choices is very important. Plus, now that calories are listed on menus, consumers are more aware of them and are looking for both balanced and delicious menu items.

To meet the demands of local health conscious consumers, many restaurants including Southern California favorites, like Islands and Cheesecake Factory, offer lighter fare menus within specified calorie guidelines.

While we know that mandating calorie information on menus in restaurants will not curb the obesity epidemic alone, experts do believe it's an important part of creating a healthier food environment. Because people do often underestimate the calories in away-from-home foods, having this information available will help those who have the intention of choosing lower calorie items. …

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