What you should know about your new FDA food nanny

On Tuesday, new Food and Drug Administration rules will be issued that will affect chain restaurants, vending machines, movie theaters, grocery stores, coffee shops and pizza joints and other retailers that sell prepared foods.

Businesses are negative on the new campaign.

The Associated Press reported that  these businesses will be required to display detailed calorie information on their menus.  The rules will only apply to establishments that have 20 or more locations.

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The AP compiled a list of what will and won’t be labeled with calorie information under the new rules:

— Menu items at chain restaurants, including drive-through and take out boards
— Drinks on menus, and soda dispensers
— Some alcoholic beverages on menus
— Most prepared foods in supermarkets, convenience stores
— Concessions at movie theaters, amusement parks that are part of larger chains
— Displays of food, such as pastries, at coffee chains like Starbucks
— Food prepared on site at large retail outlets, such as Target and Costco
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Foods that won’t be labeled with calorie information:
— Menu items at independent restaurants with fewer than 20 outlets
— Seasonal or daily specials at chain restaurants
— Anything that isn’t on a menu at a chain restaurant, such as a bread basket or drinks at the bar
— Food on airplanes, trains
— Food on food trucks
— Deli meats, cheeses and bulk salads at grocery stores

According to the Washington Post, some industry groups, such as those that represent grocery stores and pizza outlets, have argued that it is impractical and onerous to require calorie labels on food that is made to order and can vary by customer. They have insisted that the effort would shrink bottom lines far more than waistlines.

Rob Rosado, director of government relations for the Food Marketing Institute, which represents thousands of supermarkets and grocery wholesalers said

“We’re extremely disappointed.”

Rosado went on to explain:

95 percent of food in grocery stores comes with nutrition information, thanks to a 1990 law that required labels on packaged foods, and that prepared foods represent only a fraction of each store’s business. Requiring labels for fresh food made in grocery stores, delis and bakeries could cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in signage, worker training and laboratory tests to determine the calories in each dish

Rosado believes the new regulations might prompt stores to carry fewer freshly made items to avoid the regulatory headaches and expressed concern about quality:

“You’re penalizing any kind of freshness. . . . It’s going to be replaced with prepackaged food, and “It’s going to have a negative impact for grocery store consumers.”

Thank goodness the government is looking out for us, said no conservative. Ever.

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Lonnie K. Martens

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