Restaurant Menu Food Labels

You can make a difference!

The FDA is considering a proposal to require nutrition information on menus, so that people will know what they are getting when they order a kids meal, an entrée, or a dessert.

The restaurant industry is generally strongly and vocally opposed to this, arguing that such regulations might diminish our freedom and personal choice, and restrict menu flexibility. Others feel that knowing what we are eating would increase our freedom and personal choice, and would help to turn the tide of the obesity epidemic.

The regulations would probably only apply to chains with 20 or more restaurants. The FDA held their first public meeting to discuss menu food labels on October 23, 2003, as part of their Obesity Initiative. The public has been invited to comment until November 21. The FDA plans to have a proposal by February 2004. Let the FDA know what you think on a simple online form. They want to hear from you.

The $425 billion a year restaurant industry will certainly make their perspective known. I, for one, don’t want to be left guessing when looking at a menu. A plate of spaghetti at one restaurant may have twice as many calories as a plate of spaghetti at another, and without a label, I might never know. If we thought about the typical restaurant kids’ meals enough to label them, we might notice that they are often the opposite of what the Surgeon General is calling for – healthy portions of healthy foods.

Published on: November 05, 2003
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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