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Chain restaurants to provide nutritional information on menus, menu boards

Chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets will be require to include calorie labeling on menus, menu boards, and drive-through displays, as well as on vending machines. They'll also be required to provide additional nutrition information on request. 

NLbutton[1] These requirements are part of the recently signed health care reform law signed by President Obama Monday.

Similar measures are in effect or are awaiting implementation in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, New York City, Philadelphia, and a dozen other localities. The federal standard will supersede state and local requirements.

Coffee drinks can range from 20 calories to 800 calories, and burgers can range from 250 calories to well over 1,000 calories, reports the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a citizens’ advocacy organization, which has been working for the passage of nutritional labeling in chain restaurants since 2003.

Consumers need information about the caloric value of foods to make health choices when eating out. Providing such information will be of value in efforts to reduce high rates of obesity in America.

The law exempts small businesses, and doesn’t apply to daily or temporary specials and customized orders.

It requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to propose specific regulations within one year. Those regulations will be finalized through a formal rulemaking process, and the FDA must make quarterly reports on its progress to Congress.

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