The new regulations are a part of the Affordable Care Act. Every chain from Chick-fil-A to Denny’s will be required to display calorie numbers on menus and menu boards. The National Restaurant Association will be responsible for enforcing these rules, and they hope that small restaurants will adopt similar practices.
The rules are mandatory for restaurants and food establishments that have 20 or more locations, and operators who manage 20 or more vending machines. Both types of food vendors much disclose calorie information. This most likely goes for all amusement parks, grocery stores, and convenient stores.
Some states and cities have already established mandates on calorie labeling, but this is the first nation-wide rule, and it even applies to alcoholic beverages. So what are the exact changes you can expect to see? Read below for the scoop:
Calorie Analysis: If a menu features items that contain 3 or more choices, i.e. a combo meal, as it’s so commonly known, the calorie number must be presented in a range such as 500-890 calories. Customers also have the option to request information on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein.
Spotlight on Alcoholic Beverages: Purveyors are not only mandated to provide calorie counts on beer, but on cocktails and wine. However, any drinks made-to-order at the bar won’t be subject to a calorie count.
Pizza Gets Its Own Rule: Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut fought the Food and Drug Administration to allow them to only put calorie counts on pizza slices rather than whole pies. In the final rule, their demands were granted.
Safeway is No Longer Safe: All delis at major supermarkets will have to display calorie counts on their sandwiches, sushi, and take out menus. This also goes for serve-your-self salad bars or hot food bars.
Snacks Will Get Real: Many movie theaters already display calorie counts on their menu boards, but all will soon have to participate. Now everyone will know exactly how many calories are in those Dippin’ Dots, chocolate croissants, cotton candy, and popcorn.
Vending Machines Get to Take Their Time: The FDA has granted all vending machine companies until 2016 to implement the new rules.
No Worries for Food Trucks: Although many food trucks already display calorie counts, none will required to post calories in the future.
(Photo courtesy of dogulove)