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FDA’s Final Rules: Calorie Counts On Your Favorite Fast Foods?

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson

Street with drive thru restaurants (Photo from

On November 25, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus in chain restaurants and similar food establishments, as well as vending machines with 20 or more locations. The rules are required by the 2010 Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act. The reasoning behind the rules is the idea that consumers need the information in order to make informed choices for themselves and their families in order to create a healthier life. Restaurants and similar food establishments will have one year to comply with the menu labeling requirements, while vending machine operators will have two years.

What Is Included?

The menu labeling rules will cover:

· Sit-down and fast food restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and restaurant-type foods in certain grocery and convenience stores.

Vending machines (Photo by

· Take-out and delivery foods, such as pizza.

· Foods purchased at drive-through windows.

· Foods that you serve yourself from a salad or hot-food bar.

· Alcoholic drinks such as cocktails when they appear on menus.

· Foods at entertainment places, like a movie theater.

Under the new food rule, foods in vending machines will have calories listed on the front of the package or on a sign or sticker near the food or selection button.

The information is required to be clearly displayed. The calorie count cannot be smaller in size than the name or price of the menu item. For salad bars and buffets, the calorie information must be displayed on signs near the food. The rules also call for the following reminder to be included on menus: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” The labels will also tell consumers they may ask for additional written information; however, calories from fat, total fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, and protein will not be required to appear on the label.

What Is Not Included?

Some food items that will not be included under the labeling rules include:

· Foods sold at deli counters and usually intended for more than one person, such as a party platter of sandwiches.

· Bottles of liquor displayed behind a bar.

Buffet (Photo by

· Food in transportation vehicles, such as food trucks, trains, and airplanes.

· Food on menus in elementary, middle, and high schools. However, vending machines at such locations are included under the rules.

The two final rules are available in the Federal Register:

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