The FDA issued proposed regulations regarding calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines this week. They’re inviting the public to comment on the new rules at: http://www.regulations.gov. Their objective is to provide information so that consumers have more information when they make their own food choices at restaurants. The menu labeling rule proposed today applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. Examples of these establishments include fast food establishments, bakeries, coffee shops and certain grocery and convenience stores. Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food wouldn’t be subject to this proposed regulation.
These days, Americans get about 1/3 of their daily calories from foods at these kinds of facilities, so it’s a substantial portion of the diet. Right now, it’s easy for folks to find calorie and other nutrition information on packaged foods; it’s not generally available in restaurants or similar retail establishments. This proposal is aimed at giving consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information. Under the proposal, this information would be displayed clearly and prominently on menus and menu boards, including menu boards in drive-through locations; and for individual foods on display.
The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule for menu labeling until June 6. Folks can submit electronic comments on the FDA’s website by entering the docket number FDA-2011-F-0172.