The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act Friday. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the bill allows restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores more flexibility in the way they label calories on their food products. In some cases, restaurants where customers are generally hesitant about buying food can now post calorie counts online or through smartphone apps. This will allow the nervous customers to be less worried about food products and be more aware of what they are eating.
Essentially, food distributors now have the ability to post calories on various sites, giving them more flexibility and attracting new customers. Additionally, the new bill includes some rules about lawsuit protection and gives companies more time to follow the legislation. The point of this new bill is to grant companies more opportunities to grow their businesses and attract different types of customers who may have skewed impressions of the types of food they are being served.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), the bill’s author, said she hopes the bill will create more jobs through the new method of posting calories and allowing companies to hire more employees, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. There were earlier versions of this bill in the House, but they did not include all types of businesses selling food, such as convenience stores and supermarkets). The bill now includes all types of businesses with food products and allows them to find different ways to post calorie counts on menus.
This bill is important, as it will make customers more willing to try new places. Especially with our food culture today, individuals who are on major health kicks get very nervous about the food they consume. People get wrapped up in calorie counts and nutrition facts. When they do not know the ingredients in a particular food item, they are hesitant to buy it. Additionally, conscious individuals need to be told what is in the food in order to understand what they are consuming and be aware of particular ingredients that may or may not be healthy.
While I think calorie counts are something to be aware of, I do not necessarily think it is the best way to go about a healthy diet. Calorie counts give you a number, but just because a snack or meal is only 200 calories, it does not mean the ingredients are ones that you should put in your body.
Calories and ingredients are very different, and it is important to be aware of both while focusing on what you consume. For instance, one snack might be 100 calories, but there could still be 24 grams of sugar and the first ingredient might be high-fructose corn syrup. In a situation like this, it is better to buy the snack pack of nuts and dried fruit, which is 300 calories but only made of natural ingredients. Those calories are good for you, whereas too much processed sugar is not.
While this bill will certainly be helpful in bringing in new customers and making current customers more aware of what they are consuming, I think it is also incredibly important to include ingredients next to the calorie count. Major health addicts and people concerned about the food they are eating will want to know what is actually in their food and not just how many calories they consume in one sitting. I definitely think this is a helpful bill to have in place, but there are certainly improvements to be made on menus and ways to make customers even more aware.