Making healthy choices when eating out can be a challenge. Diners are often left to guess how many calories a food contains, or which dish is lower in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
The good news is that more information is on the way.
In 2010, Congress passed a law requiring chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments to post the number of calories on their menus, and make additional nutrition information available upon request.
Providing this information will help consumers compare options and make informed choices. This is especially important since one-third of all calories Americans consume come from foods and beverages prepared outside the home.
The bad news is that consumers will have to wait another year before seeing menu labeling in all chain restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
Why the delay?
Even though it has been seven years since Congress created this requirement, and two-and-a-half years since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explained what food establishments must do to comply, a few companies recently asked the FDA for more time.
And just days before restaurants and other establishments were scheduled to comply with the May 5, 2017 deadline, the FDA announced that it was responding to industry requests and extending the deadline by one additional year. That means that retail food establishments will not be required to provide calorie information until May 7, 2018.
The American Heart Association believes that consumers should not have to wait another year for this essential nutrition information. By delaying menu labeling, the FDA is limiting consumers’ ability to make informed, healthier choices when eating out.
Join us in asking the FDA to revoke the one-year extension and allow menu labeling to take effect immediately. Restaurants and other retail food establishments have had years to prepare, and many already provide calorie information on menus – demonstrating that it can be done in a reasonable space and at a reasonable cost.
It is time for the FDA to put consumers first and make sure that you have the valuable nutrition information you need when eating out.