After years of campaigning by healthy eating advocates, the federal menu labeling law is finally going into effect across the country. This means that all of your favorite grocers and restaurants with 20 or more locations will have to list calorie counts for every single one of their menu items—so you know exactly what you’re eating.
The law is created under guidelines listed in the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and is supposed to give a federal alternative to the state- and city-specific regulations that have started to pop up in recent years. While the Obama administration actually published the final rule back in 2014, it’s only just being implemented after a series of push-backs—the most recent of which happened on May 4 2017.
Most of the push-back came from grocery retailers who say they’ve been unfairly included into the new regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, and that it’s too complicated and expensive for them to implement. Basically, the law requires food service businesses with 20 locations to show how many calories are in all of the food prepared and sold in their stores. Supermarkets claim this is too difficult in the grocery store setting where prepared foods are sold in a variety of formats and at different points throughout the store.
The calorie count has to be displayed clearly on menus and menu boards, and you will also see calories listed “in close proximity” to self-service foods. If you ask for more information, businesses will also have to tell you: total fat; saturated fat; trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; total carbohydrates; sugars; fiber; and protein. And while sometimes we’d probably rather not know what’s in our favorite fast-food cheat meal, the new law will certainly make it easier than ever to make healthy food decisions when you’re out.
So keep an eye out!