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The United States announced new regulations that force chain restaurants, supermarkets or even movie theaters to put calorie labels on their products. This is an attempt of fighting the high obesity rates, one third of the adult population in the U.S. being obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Protection statistics.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the new requirements apply to all chain restaurants or vending machines with more than 20 locations. These measures have the aim of informing consumers about the food choices they make and it’s considered to be an important step for improving the public health.
‘Americans eat and drink one third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,’ FDA commissioner Margaret A Hamburg explained in a Tuesday statement.
Authorities expect the new calorie labels would improve the diets of the Americans by making them reduce the number of calories they are eating once they are aware of it. In return, the restaurants should prepare healthier food. Beverages are included in the new labeling too.
The menu labels became law in 2010, but groceries and supermarkets lobbied for being left out, even though some of them offered services similar to the restaurants. Supermarket representatives complain about the high prices of the labeling process, which will rise up to one billion dollars, being given the fact that they have thousands of products, unlike restaurants.
The FDA diminished their concerns but excluding from labeling the foods that are intended for more than one person to consume such as cheeses or bulk deli salads. There are also cases when a product will be labeled in one area only; for example fruits will be labeled on a salad, but not when found in a container for sale, where they are meant to be taken home and eaten over a longer period of time.
The Pizza industry is one of the main opponents of the new regulations, arguing that the labeling process is really difficult due to the extremely high number of possible ingredient combinations. The FDA allowed them to label pizza calories by slice, but they still have to label the menu boards in take-out restaurants.
On the other hand, the final version of the calorie labels exempts food served in the means of transport, such as trains or airplanes.
Companies will have to obey to the new regulations until November 2015, but many of them already started to post nutritional information on their websites.