New FDA Restaurant Labeling Regulations Help Consumers Make Healthier Eating Decisions

As Americans eat more meals outside of the home, avoiding greater consumption of unhealthy calories becomes a challenge. To assist in making more healthy food choices, on May 4, 2017, the FDA is introducing new regulations that require restaurants nationwide to prominently display the calorie and nutritional details of the food they serve.

Today, on average, Americans eat out of the home for 40% of their meals. Compare this with 25% in the 1970’s. And, for the first time, retail sales at US restaurants and bars have surpassed those at grocery stores. While this in part has to do with groceries becoming less expensive overall, the trend towards eating outside of the home is definitely growing.

As people enjoy eating out more, doing so can have an adverse effect on their overall health and wellness. A recent study has shown that when Americans go out, they tend to consume 200 more calories per meal than when they cook at home. And, food consumed out tends to be higher in salt, saturated fat and sodium, and lower in dietary fiber.

New FDA Regulations for Restaurants Nationwide

New FDA regulations are being introduced on May 4, 2017 that will require calorie information on restaurant items, menu boards, and vending machines. While some national chains including McDonald’s, Panera, and Dunkin’ Donuts are already doing this, the change will go into effect for all restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations.

The new labeling will be consistent nationwide, and will provide easy-to-understand nutritional information. For all standard menu items, calories must be clearly listed and displayed on the menu or a menu board. For self service food like salad bars, calories must be shown on signs near the food. In addition to calories, restaurants will also have to make available more detailed nutritional information on menus or pamphlets.

What Does This Mean For The Consumer?

This is certainly a step in the right direction in providing the American consumer with better knowledge of the food choices they make. The next step will be to further educate those consumers who want to understand how to interpret the information in order to help them make the best possible nutritional choices. For now, as consumers continue to enjoy more meals outside of the home, they will have even more nutritional information available to them.

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