Wait a minute before you snag that bagel and take a glance at the new sign that may be popping up with many items on restaurant menus. If you frequent at chain restaurants, get used to seeing that new little sign that will tell you just how many calories are in that breakfast you are about to eat
This past Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted two rules that will require standard menu items and retail food in vending machines to have labeling that outlines the calorie and nutritional information of the item. This rule will affect restaurants and vending machine companies that are selling similar items under the same name in twenty or more locations. Businesses must make labeling clear, prominent and easily accessible to the consumer and will have one year to comply with the rules. These rules are a way for the FDA to enforce the nutrition labeling provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Margaret A. Hamburg M.D., the current FDA Commissioner, stated that “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.” This diet autonomy may be coming at a crucial time in the health status of Americans. In a 2013 Health Report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it found that in the United States, 35.1% of adults over twenty were obese while 18.4% of children 12-19 were obese. Obesity is a major health concern for Americans and is having disastrous effects by affecting individuals and placing pressure on our healthcare system. These high rates of obesity don’t even take into account Americans who are simply overweight, a condition that is also creating a variety of health care issues for many Americans.
These high rates of obese and overweight Americans are a reflection of the poor eating habits of many who live in the United States, largely stemming from eating out. Soon after the release of the rulings, Hamburg stated that Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. Today, people expect clear information about the products they consume. With increased labeling supermarket products and restaurant menu items, Americans are getting used to the idea of thinking about what they are putting into their body before they take that first bite.
While this awareness and advertisement of nutritional information may be just the right step to curb the ridiculous rates of overweight Americans, higher costs may also result. The business owners will have to cover the costs of collecting nutritional data, increased labeling and advertisement of this information. The most logical step to recover from these new costs is to pass it on to the consumer. With these new FDA rules and regulations finally being implemented, customers should expect the prices of their favorite restaurant items to increase.
While this extra cost may be initially frustrating, the possible benefit of a healthier society is favorable for everyone. If food culture continues to be such a large part of American life, both the consumer and the business must understand that a greater understanding has to be reached about the content of food. In order to make conscious decisions about their diet and overall health, Americans must have information about their food to allow them to make better decisions concerning the meals. So whether the thought of a calorie count next to every sandwich, doughnut and scone you buy at a chain restaurant makes you cringe or rejoice, remember that the intentions behind these new regulations are noble and will hopefully provide the results we hope to achieve.