Menus exposed!

The debate of whether or not we should know exactly what’s in what we are being served continues. Should restaurants (particularly fast service) be required to openly inform consumers of the caloric content in what they offer? The food industry says no (of course) because if we care about what we’re eating, we’ll eat the healthier option and we can just make the assumption that it is going to be good (or at least better) for us. Besides… we’re all too ignorant to make wise decisions based on nutrition facts…right? Oh, and not to mention… if we actually are smarter than the average bear… they won’t get our money. So there’s that…

On the other hand, the consumer side says yes (for obvious reasons), we should know. Growing rates of obesity and diet-related disease nationwide also suggest it might be helpful to know what we’re taking in when we’re eating out. The history of this debate had previously been quite discouraging, but it seems there’s hope we’ll be sailing in the right direction at least for a while.

In March of 2010, President Obama signed a long overdue law that required the FDA to issue federal menu label regulations. Although the proposed regulations fall short on many counts (movie theater snacks and alcoholic beverages are excluded in these regulations, along with other shortcomings), there are some pretty exciting changes included! Unfortunately, nothing is set in stone yet and if the Supreme Court votes out Obamacare, it might put a damper on menu labeling. Check out Marion Nestle’s Blog, as she is extremely knowledgeable on this topic!

Anyway, the changes are so very exciting regardless of whether or not they are implemented, so lets take a look:

1. The menu-labeling requirement will apply to any retail food establishments with twenty or more locations in the US.
2. Caloric content of all items will be required on all menus (printed menus, menu boards, drive-through menus, online, etc.)
3. More information on calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, and more, must be provided to customers upon request.
4. A statement defining the total daily-recommended calories must also appear on each menu.
5. Vending machines are covered too!
Source: Yale Rudd Center

Menu labeling could have such an amazing impact on the daily food choices Americans make. Of course, many of us will ignore the caloric content and order whatever we want (and that’s perfectly fine), but we still deserve to make that decision for ourselves.

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