Imagine this: you are standing in line at your favorite national chain coffee shop, pondering your piping hot drink order. A glance up at the menu board now informs you that the large caramel coffee drink you are about to order contains a whopping 430 calories.
Does knowing how many calories you are about to ingest cause you to rethink your drink?
Well it just might, now that the Food and Drug Administration has issued their final labeling rule as of December 1, 2014. The new rule says that all restaurants (and movie theaters and amusement parks and vending machines) with more than 20 outlets need to post calorie information “clearly and conspicuously”.
Additional information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars and proteins have to be available (provided upon consumer request, usually done online or pamphlet).
On top of that, if you are curious about the caloric impact of your alcohol intake, that information must also be posted as well. If the alcoholic beverage is a standard menu item, the restaurant has to pony up the details on the drinks now too.
For some restaurants this will not be a major issue, since similar rules have been in effect in areas such as New York City, California, Philadelphia and Seattle/King County for a few years now.
Other restaurants will find themselves scrambling to produce calorie information before the rule goes into effect. Restaurants have one year to comply and vending machine companies have two.
Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.