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Food Labels on Menus Help Diners Make Healthier Choices

FDA Extending Food Labels to Restaurant Menus

The FDA proposal requiring restaurant menus, retail food establishments and chain restaurants to display food labels for consumers will be fully enacted in April 2013. Upon implementation, the two years in the making labeling change will mandate menus to display calorie counts next to meals. Restaurants with 20 or more locations will also be required to include nutrition labels alongside menu items on food boards. Additionally, prepackaged foods at grocery stores including salad and soup bars and baked goods would be required to adhere to the new food labeling laws. 

Food Labels Help Cut Calories
Frequent restaurant diners may eat less and make healthier choices if menus include food labels, a new study from Oklahoma State University concluded. The survey measured three groups of people - one group was given menus with calorie counts, one was given menus with colored symbols to reflect healthy versus unhealthy items and the last group used menus that had no indication of calories. Over the two-week period, diners who had access to food labels and were the least health-conscious made the largest reduction in calorie intake when selecting their meals based on calorie count and colored symbols.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandated certain chain restaurants list food calorie information on their labels. Consumers with access to food labels at restaurants are proven to make healthier decisions and not eat as much as they normally would if no calorie counts were displayed.