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New Rules to Make Counting Calories Easier

November 30, 2014
Plain English Version

Counting caloriesHow many calories are there in that slice of pizza? How many are in that box of popcorn? Soon, we all will know. We will know because the federal government is telling sellers of food to list the number of calories in their products.

It will not be simple. A pizza can be cut into six or eight slices. It can be plain or loaded with meats. How many calories are added to popcorn by butter?

Listing calories is a big deal for consumers and the food industry. There are lots of differences of opinion about its value. Some studies show only a slight reduction in intake when people know the number of calories. Other experts say more education will lead to better results. And something has to slow down the nation’s epidemic of obesity.

The new rules surprised many. They went far beyond what advocates expected. For example, alcohol is covered by the rule. The rules will apply to prepared foods in supermarkets. It will cover chains like KFC and Subway. Restaurants like Applebee’s will be affected. Vending machines will be included.

The rules apply to food for one person, such as a sandwich or a salad. They will not cover loaves of bread or a chicken.

States are beginning to enact their own rules. The food industry does not want to deal with 50 different state standards. They say the new rules are complicated. They say the rules will cost consumers more money.

Most people in the food industry say they want customers to have “clear, easy-to-use nutrition information. It should be presented in the same way, no matter in what part of the country.”

The new rules will not go into effect for at least a year.

Source: The Wall Street Journal November 25, 2014

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