Food & DrinkHow many calories does it have?

How many calories does it have?

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Did you know that food and drinks consumed outside the home add a lot of calories to our diet; as much as a third of a person’s daily intake? And that research shows that people often underestimate the number of calories they consume when eating out?

As of May 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring certain types of food establishments to post calorie information on menus and menu boards to help consumers to make educated decisions about their food. This regulation will be imposed on restaurant chains and food outlets with more than 20 locations, therefore, you will be able to know the caloric information of what you consume, whether you are eating hamburgers in a fast food restaurant, buying a salad in a supermarket or ordering pasta in a chain restaurant. In addition, nutritional information must also be provided, such as sodium or saturated fat content,

By having information about the calories in food, you can make more educated decisions about the food you eat—decisions that can help improve the overall health of you and your family. And it’s just as important that you and your family have access to this information when you eat out as it is at home, when you can see the calorie count on food packaging.

According to Dr. Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, “For consumers who want to consume fewer calories, having calorie and other nutritional information available has the potential to save and improve lives. Nearly 40 percent of American adults are obese, and obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes.”

How can you use the information to make better food choices?

Here are three examples:

  • To reduce the number of calories you consume, try making simple substitutions, such as opting for a 380-calorie grilled chicken sandwich instead of a 570-calorie fried chicken sandwich. Drinks give you another chance to choose wisely . Mineral water has no calories, compared to a soft drink, with 250 calories, depending on the serving size.
  • Ask for sauces or salad dressings on the side.
  • If you want to reduce your sodium intake, cut down on saturated fat, or increase the amount of fiber in your meals, request that information for the menu item you plan to order.

What type of establishments must display the number of calories?

Even before the menu labeling rule went into effect, you may have noticed that many chain restaurants, bakeries, and cafes already listed the number of calories in their items. According to the Regulation, the calories of food and beverages must be indicated in restaurants and other similar food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations; among them:

  • Food served in sit-down restaurants and fast food, bakeries, cafes, and restaurant-style food sold in certain supermarkets and convenience stores.
  • Takeaway and home delivery meals.
  • Meals purchased through a drive-thru window.
  • Self-serve foods from a salad bar or hot food bar.
  • Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and cocktails listed on the menus.
  • Food sold in entertainment centers, such as movie theaters or amusement parks.

How is this information displayed?

There will now be more uniformity in menu labeling, as businesses that are required to include such labeling will now have a set of national requirements that will not vary from state to state, or even city to city. But what will be included and what will it look like?

Caloric information on menus and menu boards must be clearly posted. For self-serve food, such as salad bars and buffets, the information should be clearly displayed so that consumers can see it when they go to help themselves.

To help you locate calorie information within your total daily intake, the following reminder will also be included on menus and dish signs: “2,000 calories a day is established as the baseline for making general nutrition recommendations , but caloric needs vary. Menus and meal option signs must also indicate that one may request additional written nutrition information, which will include the total number of calories, as well as total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and protein.

Since the rule has gone into effect, consumers who are armed with nutrition information from their chain or fast food restaurant, or from their food outlet, can make educated decisions about the food they eat, both for themselves and their families.

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