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Calorie count required in restaurant menus effective today

MADISON, Wis - Starting Monday, restaurant chains, supermarkets and even movie theaters will need to list the amount of calories in the foods they serve. 

The requirement is one of the last pieces of the Affordable Care Act to be implemented. Chain restaurants with more than 20 locations must list the calorie count on their menu boards, physical menus and in drive-thrus. 

They must also provide additional nutritional information, such as fats and sodium levels.

McDonald's, Taco Bell, Panera and Culver's already do this, but others will need to make the adjustment. 

"Our brand has been providing access to nutrition and allergen and ingredient information for many years on both our website and our phone app. So providing calories on the menu board was nothing new to us. It was just a new format," said registered dietitian Sarah Hendren, the nutrition and quality assurance manager for the Culver's franchise. 

She said Culver's rolled out their new menus in June of 2015 to make sure they were ahead of Monday's date. 

"We supported the national regulation because it just helped with providing consistency," Hendren said. 

The requirement is a way to address the country's obesity epidemic and help customers make more informed food decisions.  

"I wish that it was at all restaurants, especially when you're on the go and you're traveling," said Culver's customer Andres Dotto. "It's just nice to know what you're eating."

The Food and Drug Administration commissioner suggested that enlightening customers to the amount of calories they're eating could make them order an average of 50 fewer calories a day. 

 

 

"Sometimes you might just decide that you're having a splurge for that day and it might not be as big of a deal to you," said UW Health clinical nutritionist Susan Portz.

Portz agrees it is good to provide people with the calorie information, but it's up to the individual if they decide to use that information. 

"The average person needs about 2,000 calories per day. So if you look at that and you see that the item you're ordering is 1,000 calories, you can kind of keep in mind that might be half of what you need in the day," said Portz. 

She believes a majority of people are noticing the calorie amounts on menus and making small, smart decisions to switch out their usual order for healthier options.  

 


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