Adding nutrition information to menu labeling has been, and will continue to be, a hot button topic among the retail food industry. Efforts to curtail the obesity epidemic and the co-morbities that come with it can often seem at odds with the goals of restaurants or convenience food businesses. In March of 2010 Congress passed a national law requiring chain restaurants or dining establishments with 20 or more locations to post nutrition information on menus or menu boards. The details of this ruling are still being sorted out. For more information about the menu labeling debate visit the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Proponents of the change state that it will give Americans the tools they need to make better choices while dining out; opponents state there is not enough room on menus to list nutrition information and that it is not clear what needs to be included or what doesn’t.
Nutrition information is currently available for many of the restaurants most American’s frequent. Fast Food establishments usually have nutrition information for their menu items online or posted in the restaurant. Sites like Healthy Dining Finder collect nutrition information for many different restaurants and publish that information on their site, along with suggestions for healthy meals at the various locations. However, this article in the Washington Post points out a very obvious problem with posting nutrition information; will people make better choices when the information is right in front of them? Several restaurants are finding no difference in how their customers eat when ordering at the establishment even when nutrition information is listed clearly in the menu.
How do you feel about including nutrition information on menus? Do you think it will be effective in making better selections while dining out, which Americans are doing more than ever? Do you have any solutions that would be more effective for the retail dining environment? Do you think that adding nutrition information to menus will have an impact on the meal choices individuals make?
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