As a response to the Affordable Care Act and with the help of lobbying and advocates from the public, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its rules for nationwide nutritional labeling yesterday. FDA now requires all food establishments and vending machines with 20 locations or more to post the amount of calories on their menus; this includes alcoholic beverages as well. Other nutritional information such as total fat, protein, and sodium must be made available upon request. Many Americans frequently eat and drink outside of the home and now people will have clear information about the foods they eat.
This is an important step towards improving public health. While no single action can prevent obesity, many organizations, communities and federal agencies are making an effort to combat the obesity epidemic. The new rules are supported by both the National Restaurant Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics so that consumers have the tools to make the best choices for them.
New York City adopted similar guidelines in 2006. Other large cities have followed suit. McDonald’s and a few other large chains already post their calorie counts in most locations. But this is the first law that makes calorie listing mandatory across the country. It has taken four years since the bill was signed into law for the FDA to finalize its recommendations into guidelines. Companies now have one year to comply.