F.D.A. proposing new calorie labeling rules

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has issued two proposed regulations in regards to calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retail food establishments and vending machines.

Under the rules, consumers would see calories listed in restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name. The proposal also encourages the public to comment on whether or not additional types of food establishments should be covered by the new rule. Under these rules, operators who have more than 20 vending machines would post calorie information for food sold in the machine unless it is already visible on individual packages of food inside the machine.

“Americans now consume about one-third of their total calories on foods prepared outside the home,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, F.D.A. commissioner. “While consumers can find calorie and other nutritional information on most packaged foods, it is not generally available in restaurants or similar retail establishments. This proposal is aimed at giving consumers consistent and easy-to-understand nutrition information.”

The Affordable Care Act requires the disclosure of calories and other nutrition information in certain food establishments for certain foods sold in vending machines. Also, statements would be posted on menus and menu boards regarding suggested daily calorie intake and indicating additional information is available upon request. The F.D.A. is proposing a statement to be printed on menus saying a 2,000-calorie-diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice but individual calorie needs may vary.

The public will have until June 6 to comment on the proposed rule for menu labeling and until July 5 to comment on the rule for vending machines. The F.D.A. expects to issue the final rules before the end of the year.

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