Here’s something I never thought would happen: Apparently, President Trump has decided at least one part of Obamacare is worth keeping.
Turns out, chain restaurants are still going to have to advertise the calorie content of their food. The new rule, instituted under the Affordable Care Act, went into effect last month.
Although, I have to wonder how long it will last. (If I had to guess, I’d say until this administration figures out that it could spell trouble for big business.)
But, for the time being, I’m as pleased as I am surprised.
New rules, new outcomes
Under these new requirements, restaurant chains with at least 20 locations are going to have to slap calorie counts on their menus. The same goes for grocers, convenience stores, movie theaters, and vending machines.
They’ll also have to offer up additional nutrition info — like fat and sodium counts. Not that either of those numbers matter as much as the biggest killer of them all — sugar content. (Which is what these businesses really should be forced to post… in giant neon letters.)
But ultimately, any step toward transparency is a positive one. It’s just a shame it took as long as it did. And that the food industry’s hand had to be forced. But let’s face it — without aggressive government intervention, this country’s diabesity epidemic doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance of slowing down.
Granted, this new rule isn’t going to solve anything. Like I’m always saying, there’s a lot more to conquering obesity than calories in/calories out. But it’s a decent enough place to start.
Studies show that informed customers order as many as 50 fewer calories a day. That adds up to 350 calories a week — which would yield a loss of just over five pounds a year. That’s not a lot… but it’s something.
And at this point, I’m prepared to celebrate even the smallest victory. After all, the FDA finalized this menu-labeling rule all the way back in 2013. But as usual, they put off enforcing it as long as they could in order to accommodate the food industry.
Complaints over change
Of course, groups like the National Association of Convenience Stores are wringing their hands over how they’ll possibly be able to comply with this new rule.
All I can say is that they’ve had years to figure out a strategy. It’s time to just suck it up and do it already!
Unfortunately, my tough love is not shared by Congress. They’re hard at work on legislation that would modify these new rules — though the Senate hasn’t acted on anything yet.
And of course, the FDA can’t just stick to its guns. They’re talking about moving the goal post yet again… and planning to devote yet another year to “educating the industry” on how to comply with these new rules — instead of actually enforcing them.
Because I guess half a decade just isn’t enough time to get giant, multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporations to read the law?!
I never thought I’d be listing off these names as examples par excellence, but fast food giants McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell have been following these regulations for years already. So I think the rest of the chain restaurant world can manage just fine.
They owe it to the American people to do exactly that, as quickly as possible.