Calorie counts on menus not required for another year
Customers who want to know how many calories are in their Big Mac may have to wait more than a year to be told by a lit up wall menu.
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it will give restaurants and other stores that sell prepared food until December 1, 2016 to comply with regulations requiring such establishments to “clearly and conspicuously” display calorie counts on their menus. Restaurants are also required to inform customers that 2,000 a day is standard for a healthy diet, and they must make information on sodium, fat, and sugar content available should customers request it.
Congress initially called for such regulations back in 2010, but it took the FDA several years to write the new rules. The calorie count requirement was first issued last November, but restaurants say they need more time implement their new menus.
The regulations apply to chain restaurants and retailers that have 20 or more stores
There are exceptions for food items meant to serve several people, such as deli trays for catered parties. Besides the obvious fast food chains, the new rules also apply to other establishments that sell prepared foods, such as pizza delivery chains, convenience stores, movie theaters, and grocery stores that sell prepared foods at their delis and bakeries. These types of non-restaurant retailers lobbied aggressively against the regulations, insisting that the new rules would be particularly burdensome for their businesses.
While some restaurants have already begun displaying calorie counts, many agree that they need more time to install the new menus and train workers about the new regulations.
Small businesses should take note
The new regulations indicate that the federal government is willing to regulate how businesses market their products if it will help improve public health or otherwise benefit the public. They also point towards the idea that modern customers require more transparency about the products they purchase.
Cynical customers no longer assume that companies have their best interest in mind, or that companies will volunteer all of the information they want to know when deciding which products to purchase. More and more, businesses may be expected to display, or at least have available, detailed information about their products. Small businesses, take note.