FDA mandates over 200,000 restaurants to display calorie details on food

Whether they like it or not, all movie theaters and amusement parks and convenience stores as well as restaurants with over 20 branch chains in the US will now be mandated to list out full details of calorie counts in the food they serve to customers during their normal business hours.

As part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now request that all businesses that serve food and drinks to its customers display the calorie constituents of the food on its label – so long the business has up to 20 network branches or locations.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the commissioner for FDA states that “While no single action can fix the obesity problem, a step we’re taking today is an important one for public health.”

Some affected businesses protest their inclusion in the labeling requirement, stating that food service was only incidental to their main businesses, but Hamburg replies that “We tried to be flexible and realistic,” most especially as it relates to the inclusion of some businesses and not others.

For instance, food trucks, ice-cream trucks, and airlines that serve food on flights would not be required to display the calorie levels of their foods on labels; but takeout pizza, popcorn sold at a movie theater, hot dogs from a convenience store, and food items from salad bars will have their calorie counts displayed on their labels.

To support their plea that they should be excluded from the rule, grocery stores through the Food Marketing Institute stated that it would cost them about $1 billion to satisfy this calorie labeling injunction within the first year while they would have to be spending millions of dollars every year to do this – simply because their prepared food change very often and it is not possible to test all food items and create specialized labels.

Robert Rosado, the trade group’s director of government affairs states that “This is going to take away from anything that’s freshly made in the store because the costs involved will be so high. You’re going to lose fresh choices.”

The FDA defended its position by saying that consumers have a right to know the nutritional components of what they eat, and since one-third of Americans eat out, they must be helped to make informed choices over what they eat when they eat out.