U.S. Chain Restaurants Are Now Required to Put This on Their Menu

Some have already done this! Have you noticed?

If you’re ever ordering at McDonald’s, you probably noticed that the calorie count is listed for every item on their menu (unless it’s from the McDonald’s secret menu). You can order your Big Mac and a large fry and know exactly what you are consuming. Although chains such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and even Starbucks give the calorie count for their items, not all restaurants provide customers with that kind of information. Until now, that is.

Restaurants must provide nutritional information

Thanks to a new law enacted by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), any restaurant with more than 20 locations must provide customers with a calorie-count on their food items. This law was officially enacted on May 7, 2018, requiring restaurants and retail food establishments to change up their menu labels. This includes any business that offers prepared foods for self-service, like a stand at an airport or a bakery within a grocery store. Along with the calorie count, these businesses must keep the same item name and offering throughout every store.

Although calorie counts are required to be on the menu, all other nutritional facts are not. However, the FDA now requires businesses to provide the following written information upon request: total calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and protein. That’s why stores are required to display statements explaining that other nutritional info is available upon request, as well as advice for general nutrition, including daily calorie intake guidelines.

Big chains hopped on board early on

This law was proposed back in December 2014, but despite the delay caused by debate, many restaurants voluntarily made the switch before it was signed and sealed.

You would assume that a big change like this would mean the popular chain restaurants would be the hardest to convince to make updates. But shockingly, most well-known fast food (or fast casual) places have already put these numbers on their menu. These eateries include Baskin-Robbins, Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jamba Juice, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Starbucks and Subway.

Psst: Want to know who has the unhealthiest fries in America?

Around 230,000 restaurants will now have to follow this rule, according to the National Restaurant Association. All food establishments that qualify are required to have new menus with calorie count by the end of this month.

So why do it?

Even though this information isn’t officially posted, customers should know they have access to nutrition facts if they want them. It makes sense that the proposed law got a lot of pushback. Providing calorie counts means showing the world just how unhealthy some of these items are, causing people to question their purchases at the checkout. Even though it’s still too soon to tell, some early sale numbers show that the added calorie count hasn’t made a difference in sales. In fact, McDonald’s has seen increased stock and restaurant sales, even after making some unhealthy switches on their menu in 2016.

The reasoning behind all of this is having total transparency with the customer and the restaurant. Customers should know what they are putting in their bodies and restaurants should make that information easily available. Creating awareness has even inspired some of these food establishments to think healthier when coming up with new menu offerings. One study says that, on average, new menu items are 56 calories lower compared to food items being released before 2012.

Speaking of chain restaurants, did you know you can make your favorite dishes right at home? These restaurant copycat recipes even come with calorie counts!

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