Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Menu Labeling

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1994 mandated that all packaged foods include a now-familiar label to inform consumers of the nutrition contents. In 2003, the government added trans fat to the list of required disclosures. But the original act did not mandate that the same nutrition information be made available at restaurants. As Americans choose to eat more and more meals and snacks outside the home, especially at fast food restaurants, the lack of available nutrition information keeps consumers in the dark about the calories, fat, sodium and carbohydrate amounts in their fast-food purchases. Consumers have a right to this information, so they can choose more healthful meals for themselves.

Local, state, and federal policies have been introduced that would mandate fast food restaurants to list calories on their menu boards and more complete information on menus. These policies would help create an environment that makes healthy behavior easier. The Rudd Center is currently conducting research to determine if providing calorie information on restaurant menus and menu boards influences peoples' food choices and/or the amount they consume.

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