As part of the new healthcare legislation (Affordable Care Act), the FDA has now published its guidelines for restaurants to inform consumers of the calorie counts of food. It establishes requirements for nutrition labeling of standard menu items for chain restaurants and chain vending machine operators.
This is important because Americans now consume an estimated one-third of their total calories from foods prepared outside the home. Consumers are generally unaware of the number of calories they consume from these foods, and being overweight or obese increases the risk of a number of diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
Here’s what the guidelines say:
— Restaurants with 20 or more locations must disclose the number of calories in each standard menu item on menus and menu boards (have 19 chain locations? You get a pass. Daily specials also get a pass.)
— Additional written nutrition information must be available to consumers upon request (total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium sugars, carbs, fiber, protein, etc.)
— The menu must say that the additional nutritional information is available.
— The calorie information (per serving or per food item) for self-service items must be on a sign adjacent to each food item.
— Chain vending machines must also show the calories for articles of food.
Here’s a preview of what you’ll find:
- 576 calories – Big Mac (without cheese) from McDonald’s
- 320 calories – One slice thin crust pepperoni Domino’s Pizza (who only eats one slice?)
- 670 calories – Medium Cappuccino Blast Shake from Baskin Robbins
- 280 calories – 4 oz scoop Baskin Robbins Pralines ‘n Cream ice cream (extra for the cone)
- 217 calories – 1/2 cup Chinese Chicken Salad from Fresh Choice (who eats 1/2 cup?)
- 142 calories – 1/2 cup Zesty Italian Spaghetti from Fresh Choice
- 1890 cals – Nachos Grande from Chevy’s Fresh Mex
- 380 calories – Carnitas soft taco from Chevy’s Fresh Mex
- 1320 cals – Fajita burrito from Chevy’s Fresh Mex
- 1060 cals – Kid’s cheese quesadilla or kiddie cheeseburger from Chevy’s (!!!)
This is so much fun. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
The jury is still out whether this type of information will have an impact on the diets of Americans, but at least people can’t say they didn’t know.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*