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FDA proposes calorie counts on menus

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — It could get harder to indulge in a double cheeseburger and fries without feeling guilty.

Menu labeling requirements proposed Friday by the Food and Drug Administration will require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, along with bakeries, grocery stores, convenience stores and coffee chains, to clearly post the calorie count for each item on their menus.

"We've got a huge obesity problem in this country and it's due in part to excess calorie consumption outside the home," says Mike Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods. "Consumers generally when you ask them say they would prefer to have that information."

The new rules will apply to menus, both in restaurants and drive-through lanes. They will also apply to vending machines if calorie information isn't already visible on the package.

The calorie counts will apply to an estimated 280,000 establishments and could be on menus by 2012. Required as part of health overhaul legislation signed into law last year, they are designed to give restaurant diners information that has long been available on packaged goods cooked at home. The FDA estimates that a third of calories are consumed by eating out.


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