In an attempt to make people more aware about the risk posed by fatty and sugary foods in causing obesity, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a set of new rules, asking the operators of restaurants, big food joints and large vending machines to disclose the calorie counts of every food item on menus to help the consumers in better judging their calorie intake.
“Obesity is a national epidemic that affects millions of Americans. Americans strikingly eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told mediapersons during a conference call on Monday.
The FDA rules are set a national standard for restaurant chains and more than 20 eating outlets and will also pre-empt the patchwork of state laws.
The rules, which are part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (AAA), require the food joints to display the calories present in all food items on all menus and menu boards. Besides, some other crucial nutritional information related to cholesterol, protein, sugars and calories from fat must be provided in writing upon request.
FDA’s new calorie rule will cover meals at sit-down restaurants, take-out food, bakery items, pizza delivery jointsm and ice cream from an ice-cream stores.
It will also include amusement parks and movie theaters and also the alcoholic beverages that are served in restaurants and not mixed or served at a bar.
However, the rule will not be applicable to seasonal menu items like daily specials, Thanksgiving dinner and other standard condiments.
According to the FDA officials, the restaurants will get one year and operators of vending machines will get two years to comply with the new set of rules following publication in the Federal Register.
Meanwhile, the FDA decision has invited mixed reactions from the restaurant industry.
Hailing the new standards by FDA, Dawn Sweeney, chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, said, “We believe that the Food and Drug Administration has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern.”
National Restaurant Association represents 990,000 restaurant and food-service outlets.
Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, expressed his discontent for the FDA’s rules.
“We are disappointed that the FDA¹s final rules will capture grocery stores, and impose such a large and costly regulatory burden on our members,” said Larkin.
In 2010, Panera Bread Co became the first company to voluntarily display the information related to calorie at all its cafes across the nation.