Pizza lovers are getting a reprieve from the FDA. The agency has delayed rules requiring chain restaurants to display the calorie count on their menu. Where did the rule originate? If you’re not a fan of the Affordable Care Act, you better sit down.

The calorie count menu rule is mandated by the law and required businesses with more than 20 locations to include calorie information. It’s not a terrible idea, just common sense says a triple cheeseburger is a ton of calories.

Besides, the consumer has already begun to demand nutritional information be available to them. Corporate websites have the information posted, and there are enough apps to fill the largest iPhone to track your daily caloric intake.

These rules have been tossed around since 2011 when the FDA first proposed them. It’s the federal government, so years have passed as agencies and businesses have argued over the rules. In one instance, the FDA wanted pizza chains to post the calorie ranges for the entire pizza.

Domino’s, along with other chains, pushed back. First, there are countless topping combinations on pizzas. How do you come up with a range when you have people figuring out the weirdest pizza order possible? Second, the companies already post the information online.

Why would a business want to remind the customer they are about to destroy their diet? It’s an unspoken truth when you walk into Burger King, Pizza Hut or ‘insert chain here’ the diet is either taking the day off, or it’s on an extended cheat week. I mean day…

The rules have become so convoluted that businesses think advertising flyers will be subject to the calorie menu rules. Yeah, save $5 on this 1000 calorie value meal. Then there are the penalties. If chains do not comply in 2016, they could be subject to a variety of penalties.

calorie counts on restaurant menus

Grocery stores are not immune to the rules either. The prepared foods section will be subject to the same mandate as chain restaurants. Estimates top $1 billion in additional costs to label your macaroni salad and chicken dinners.

Should the information be available to the consumer? Absolutely. Should the FDA be spending years trying to get the language correct on labeling requirements? No. Focus on consumer safety, then worry about what’s on the menu.

If a person honestly thinks downing a large pizza is a smart diet decision, whatever. There’s no law against bad eating habits.

Instead, let the shift happen at the consumer level. Already the new dollar menu has become healthy ingredients. Calorie counts are just a google search away. Apps like MyFitnessPal will shock you into throwing away junk food. A slice of pizza is how many calories? Hell no, where’s my celery?

Personal responsibility always trumps government mandates when it comes to food. Besides, showing off calorie counts doesn’t change habits. A Stanford study in 2010 looked at the habits of Starbucks customers. On average patrons consumed six percent fewer calories.

It sounds like a win until you know the details. They just stopped grabbing the food items but kept the calorie-rich milkshake / espresso shot monstrosity. One, how the hell do you drink that? And two, you seriously passed on a Starbucks cheese danish? You guessed it, I’m the crazy person bulk ordering frozen cheese danishes. Want a perplexed look from the barista? Order a dozen frozen cheese danishes.

Food mandates can work if they are targeted. A calorie count on the menu is not targeted. It doesn’t remove high levels of sodium, various fats and the bag of sugar from the equation. There are bigger fish to fry – ok bake – for the FDA. Food and drug safety being the agency’s top priority.

For the rest of us? Eat healthy, exercise and make smart lifestyle decisions. We will all feel better, and at the end of the day, it’s on us to make the changes. I lean liberal but damn. Personal responsibility comes in at some point. Last thing I need is the FDA telling me I can’t have a burger.


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