Calorie counts on drive-thru boards are coming to all chain restaurants. A provision of the federal health care law requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to list how many calories are in their menu items, both on the menu itself and in the drive-thru.
Several chains, including McDonald‘s and Starbucks, have been posting calorie counts for years, as state and local governments began weighing their own labeling laws.
Indiana State Department of Health wellness coordinator Lindsey Bouza says these posts can be helpful to consumers.
“We can’t make them choose one thing over the other, but we can give them the information that could possibly encourage them to choose the healthy option.”
Bouza also acknowledges most people don’t pay attention to the labeling.
“It’s kind of the effect you have when you have a health fair. It reaches people who are already kind of interested but that population that you’re really trying to reach it may not reach that population that already does not care.”
Bouza says there‘s been a more significant change in the menus themselves, as restaurants introduce lower-calorie options or reformulate their existing dishes.
The Food and Drug Administration was supposed to finish the labeling requirements two years ago, but has been trying to answer objections to some of the details. It‘s now hoping to finalize the rule by year‘s end and have it take effect next summer.