NYC to Post Calorie Counts on Menus

Dining out in New York City just got a lot simpler with the passage of a law requiring fast food chains to display calorie counts on menu boards, Reuters reports.

Under the new regulation, which is slated to take effect March 31, restaurants that operate at least 15 separate outlets will be required to post nutrition information “in close proximity” to items on menus and menu boards in font sizes comparable to those used for the items’ names or prices.

City officials had previously proposed legislation that would have applied only to chain restaurants, but it was rejected by a U.S. district judge on the grounds that it violated existing federal food labeling laws.

Commenting on the new regulation, Center for Science in the Public Interest nutrition policy director Margo Wootan noted that “it’s going to get a lot easier to make informed choices at New York City’s chain restaurants,” adding that group expects that “many more cities, counties and states will require menu labeling once they see how easy it is for these chains to list calories on menus.”

A spokesperson for the New York Restaurant Association, meanwhile, says the group has yet to decide whether it will challenge the mandate.

Although we are all for full nutritional disclosure we aren’t so sure this is going to do much in the way of the intended effect. Listing calories doesn’t tell you anything about what those calories are comprised of. Additionally, it is a bit difficult to imagine people canceling their orders of fries when (if!) they see the calorie count. People, and maybe this a bit too optimistic, must know by now that eating super sized fries isn’t good for you. It’s not simply a matter of education. It’s also about perceived value, and the fact that many people just don’t care.

What do you think? About time? A step in the right direction? Or a waste of time?

via Yahoo! News

stephee Flickr Photo (CC)

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6 thoughts on “NYC to Post Calorie Counts on Menus”

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  1. Will people pay attention and really acknowledge the nutriton facts on the menu? I suppose it depends on the person. When the movie “Supersize Me” came out, my neighbor watched it and from that day on, he changed his eating habits, he hadn’t realized until he saw the dangers of eating unhealthy, it scared he and his wife. I believe it’ll make some people think twice, and others won’t.

  2. I think it’s a waste of time. Calories are not the whole picture of a food “product”. If you know what the ingredients and preparation method are you can make a more informed choice. If you are eating at McDonald’s then you probably don’t care of there are 300 or 1000 calories in your Big Mac, esp since you still don’t know exactly what’s in the patty or care that it’s on a big white bun.

  3. I think it will help. Not the people who read this blog and other like it, but the average person maybe. People like to live in denial and perhaps seeing the facts on calories listed will shake some of them out of it and make them consider choosing another option on the menu. Especially with the so called “healthy” options that turn out to have more calories than the stuff that people think is worse.

  4. Additionally, it is a bit difficult to imagine people canceling their orders of fries when (if!) they see the calorie count. People, and maybe this a bit too optimistic, must know by now that eating super sized fries isn’t good for you.

    People who eat supersized fries aren’t going to be deterred; they’re target consumers for products like Jolt! -all the sugar and twice the caffeine-; however, someone eyeballing a plate of linguine at the Olive Garden and seeing that 1,200 calorie count might opt for salad with dressing on the side instead. I have seen a number of research studies showing that people routinely underestimate the calories of common menu items by hundreds of calories. This is a great step forward for consumer choice. You can eat whatever you want, but at least you’ll know how much you’re really eating.

  5. Mixed reaction from me. I think Sonagi’s right in many ways – somebody might choose the salad instead of the fries, and that would be good. However, I think calories are one of the biggest distractors in our quest for health. I do not routinely count my calories, but I did for six weeks last fall. I ate 2,300 to 2,400 calories a day and lost a little under 1 lb per week. However, I accomplished this by cutting out entire categories of food – grains, starchy vegetables, added sugars, and high-sugar fruits. (Thanksgiving Day was the sole exception, when I allowed myself a treat.)

    Ultimately I think it is quality, rather than quantity, that matters. There are a lot of calorie-dense foods that are terrible for you – fries and desserts and pastas. But there are also a lot of calorie-dense foods that are excellent – what is denser in calories than olive oil? Furthermore, there is a lot of low-calorie food out there that is just plain junk – Lean Cuisine, anyone?

  6. Too bad they won’t be required to post what kind of oil they are using to fry those frenchfrys in or just how old that frenchfry oil really is, or how many rats, mice or cucarachas are running around the place or if their employees really wash their hands or how many times the cook drops the food on the floor and still uses it… In general, I think it’s better to stay out of restaurants as much as possible and eat at home. Posting how many calories are in the food is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what’s truly useful information about what you’re eating.