Health Reform Law Adds Calories

While legislators continue to fight the health reform law, restaurant chains are also feeling the bite. Restaurants?

Yes, section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (”Affordable Care Act”) set standards for nutritional labeling at chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines.

What the Provision Says

Here is a brief summary of some of the provision.

  • Applies to chain restaurants with 20 or more locations
  • Menus and menu boards must disclose the number of calories for each standard menu item
  • Calorie information must be put into context of a recommended total daily calorie amount
  • Restaurants must have written nutritional information available for customers who ask for it
  • Requires a display with the number of calories for self-service food items – e.g., salad bars

Parts of the provision apply to vending machines and include the following.

  • Applies to owners with 20 or more vending machines
  • Must display calorie content for individual food items
  • Requirement applies if consumer cannot see nutritional information at time of purchase

When It is Effective

Although effective on March 23, 2010 (with the signing of the Affordable Care Act), enforcement is pending rules from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has a targeted deadline of March 23, 2011.

In the meantime, the FDA released a draft guidance.

Do Numbers Add Up

If you visited a chain restaurant recently, chances are you have seen some of the calorie counting. It can be a shock to the system, even for conscientious diners.

Here are nutritional information charts from a few popular restaurants. There are many calorie charts on the internet for various restaurants. The following charts are from the restaurants’ websites.

Once the FDA finalizes the rules, you will be able to ask for your own written nutritional information brochure from your favorite chain restaurant. It might just remove supersize from your vocabulary.

stockxchng photo credit Image ID: 1097100

Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care professional and cannot provide legal or medical advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or medical advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and medical issues with your physician.


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