New menu item: calorie count

    Restaurant inspectors from Philadelphia’s health department will begin citing restaurants that lack calorie counts on their menus.

    Diners at Philadelphia chain restaurants may notice something new on the menu: calorie counts. Today is the deadline for new calorie labels to appear on menu boards.
    (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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    Customers ordered lunch at Dunkin’ Donuts in Center City, where the number of calories accompanied the price of each item.

    Grens: Will it change what you order?
    Diane: Yeah. I’ll probably get a bagel from now on or something like that, because it’s probably like real high in sodium and that’s not healthy.

    Grens: Does having the calories posted on there make a difference to you in what you’d order?
    Cindy: No. I try to live everyday almost as if it’s my last.

    It might not work on everyone, but the goal is to encourage healthier choices and curb obesity. Palak Raval-Nelson is Philadelphia’s director of environmental health services.

    Nelson: The goal of the new requirements are to provide consumers information about their food choices so they can make educated healthy decisions at the point of purchase.

    Calories are just the first phase of new menu rules. Nelson says the city has the most comprehensive menu requirements in the country.

    Nelson: We do require – not as of today, but starting April 1 – that all facilities including places with sit down menus provide information about calories, saturated fats, carbohydrate, trans fats and sodium.

    Nelson says there isn’t much evidence on whether labeling works to curb obesity, but researchers will be measuring the rule’s impact as it rolls out. Restaurants with at least 15 locations face the requirement. Nelson says health inspectors will cite restaurants if they are lacking calorie counts.

    New Jersey chains will also have to post calories on menus starting next year.

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