The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s menu labeling rule requiring restaurants, coffeehouses, and supermarket salad bars and food stations to list calorie counts next to eat-in and take-out items went into effect on May 7. According to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., this new provision provides a uniform standard that replaces patchwork menu labeling laws throughout the country. Many restaurants had already implemented the rule.
The goal of this labelling is to provide consumers with consistent, science-based information with which to make their personal food choices. According to the FDA, Americans eat and drink about one-third of their total calories outside of the home, which may partially account for the fact that obesity rates in adults and children are at all-time high levels.
Under the new rule, posters, billboards, coupon mailings, and other promotional materials are not considered menus and do not require calorie count listings. Consumers may ask restaurants for additional nutritional information, including how much sodium, fiber, sugars, total carbohydrates, saturated fat, and protein are in any standard menu item; these details can be provided as a booklet or handout or in electronic form.