Health Care Bill Requires Menus List Calorie Count

Even if you've kept up with all the minute details of the Health Reform Bill, you may have missed language that requires calorie labeling on chain-restaurant menus. Tucked neatly inside the bill's pile of paper are specific instructions on how chains with more 20 or more outlets must provide nutritional information on menus, menu boards, drive-through displays, vending machines and upon request.

The bill exempts small businesses and doesn't apply to customized orders and daily or temporary specials.

Why is this measure necessary? Perhaps because coffee drinks can contain anywhere from 20 calories to 800 calories and burger calories range from 250 to well over 1,000.

In 2006, New York City became the first city to begin menu labeling, followed, naturally, by trendy California in 2008.

The single biggest contributor to the requirement was probably the National Restaurant Association which finally dropped it's complaints about menu labeling last year. In fact, the NRS began supporting labeling.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration willl recommend new regulations by March 2011. Similar laws are already in effect or are expected to be implemented in Philadelphia, Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York City, New Jersey and 12 other places.

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