Whether you're headed to Chili's or the movies, you'll soon be seeing a lot more calorie counts posted. The FDA is today announcing what a nutrition expert calls "one of the most important public health nutrition policies ever to be passed nationally," the New York Times reports: Starting in a year, food-serving establishments with at least 20 locations will have to label their menus with calorie information. The Times characterizes the rules as "far broader than expected": Even movie popcorn, vending machine snacks, and restaurant beer will be included. The goal is to cut down on the US obesity problem, though studies have offered mixed results as to whether that effect will actually take hold.
ObamaCare required such labeling; the FDA's 2011 proposal exempted movie theaters and didn't include booze. These final rules are meeting with mixed reaction. "I'm amazed. It never occurred to me that alcohol would make it in," says a nutritionist. (Alcoholic drinks listed in a menu or on a menu board are those affected.) But a conservative policy researcher calls it "a shocking power grab that ignored the plain language of the law," which he says was only meant for businesses like restaurants. Indeed, grocery and convenience store chains like Whole Foods and 7-Eleven, which must follow the rules for single-serving prepared meals, are likely to fight the move, Politico reports. Lawmakers who introduced legislation last year to limit the rule to chain restaurants are also expected to put up a fight. But the Obama administration believes companies won't want to make a show of opposing health rules that—at least according to officials' thinking—the public supports. (Read more FDA stories.)