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FDA’s Calorie Displays go into Effect

Update Date: Nov 25, 2014 09:41 AM EST

New nutritional labels will go into effect nationwide within the next year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its final revisions earlier today, which were a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that required all establishments that sell food to provide calorie counts as well as other nutritional information if requested.

"Obesity is a national epidemic that affects millions of Americans," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters on a conference call on Monday reported by The Huffington Post. "Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home."

The FDA's rules will now mandate all establishments that have 20 locations or more to write out the calorie counts for all food and beverage items available on the menu. This information can be presented on anything, ranging from boards to displays. Establishments include restaurants, movie theaters, pizza parlors, amusement parks, grocery stores and any location that sells ready-to-eat meals, such as food trucks and vending machines.

The final guidelines will also require these places to give out any information on a menu item's fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and total protein levels. They will also have to display the calorie count for alcoholic beverages served at restaurants but not bars.

"We believe that the Food and Drug Administration has positively addressed the areas of greatest concern," said Dawn Sweeney, chief executive of the National Restaurant Association, which represents 990,000 restaurant and food-service outlets.

Not everyone is happy about the new regulations, on the other hand.

Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, commented, "We are disappointed that the FDA¹s final rules will capture grocery stores, and impose such a large and costly regulatory burden on our members."

So far, companies such as Panera Bread Co., McDonald's Corp and Starbucks Corp have voluntarily displayed calorie counts.

Companies have one year and vending machines have two years to comply with the new rules.

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