Indiana News

Health Care Law Will Bring Calorie Counts to Fast-Food Menu Boards

Labeling requirement could take effect next summer



Those calorie counts you see on the drive-thru board at McDonald's are coming to all chain restaurants.

A provision of the federal health care law requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to list how many calories are in their menu items, both on the menu itself and in the drive-thru.

Several chains, including McDonald's and Starbucks, have been posting calorie counts for years, as state and local governments began weighing their own labeling laws. Indiana State Department of Health wellness coordinator Lindsey Bouza says studies indicate the information has produced only a slight drop in the calories customers order. She says the people who pay attention to the calorie counts tend to be those who are already health-conscious.

But Bouza says there's been a more significant change in the menus themselves, as restaurants introduce lower-calorie options or reformulate their existing dishes.

The Food and Drug Administration was supposed to finish the labeling requirements two years ago, but has been trying to answer objections to some of the details. It's now hoping to finalize the rule by year's end and have it take effect next summer.


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