New Bill May Make Counting Calories at Restaurants Even More Confusing

If the bill becomes a law, restaurants will be able to determine serving sizes and list calorie counts accordingly

Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock

Bill threatens to put a dent into the FDA mandate issued in November 2014.

A new bill passed by the United States House of Representatives works to ease calorie labeling requirements as established by the FDA in a mandate issued in November 2014, according to Eater.

The FDA mandate called for chain restaurants with 20 locations or more to list calorie counts on their menus by December 2016. These calorie counts would reflect the entire menu item (e.g. an entire pizza), without taking into account how many people would share the item. Under the new bill, restaurants would have the power to determine serving sizes and list calorie counts accordingly, or “the number of calories per the common unit division of the standard menu item, such as for a multiserving item that is typically divided before presentation to the consumer,” as stated on the bill.

Proponents for the bill say it will ease compliance with FDA labelling regulations, “because prudent, effective labeling standards don't come in the form of one-size-fits-all rule set forth by unelected bureaucrats,” says Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who sponsored the bill.

“[The bill] would allow restaurants to break up what might be a horrifyingly high calorie count for a standard menu item, like a whole pizza, into per serving or per slice information,” says Lauren Handel, an attorney with Foscolo & Handel LLC.

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