Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

Campus: FDA nutrition rules a positive change

Senior Jessica Capp works in the Brew as a student employee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized two regulations mandating that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in fast food restaurants or food establishments and vending machines two weeks ago.
Jessica Nodulman, assistant professor of communication studies, who specializes in health communication, is an advocate of the new regulations.
“It’s always good to give the public information and they can choose what to do with that information,” said Nodulman.
The menu regulations apply to food establishments that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations with the same name. Similarly, regulations on vending machines apply to operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines.
In addition to food products, alcoholic beverages served in restaurants must have this nutritional information listed as well. The restaurants affected are required to clearly list calorie information next to the items on the menu. The establishments in question are also required to provide additional health information to customers that request it.
All the applicable restaurants have been allotted a one year grace-period to ascertain the necessary health information.
Although Nodulman noted that not all people will use the information to their advantage, she applauded the fact that “now the consumer in the general public has that option to know what they’re eating and what’s in their food.”
FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, reported that “Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume.”
The Food Research and Action Center reported that more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, including 68.5% of adults, as well as 31.8% of children, based on 2014 statistics.
Though fast food restaurants have begun offering healthier options in recent years, these options are typically scarce. The issue of obesity may not be solved by additional labeling, however, it could be a step in the right direction.
Junior Adam Witucki, member of the men’s soccer team, has kept a strict physical and dietary regiment since attending college, which he said is not necessarily easy.
He said finding healthy alternatives can be difficult and costly but “you just have to take a little extra time to find a good place or find a healthier option on the menu.”
Witucki said the new FDA regulations may be beneficial.
“It will probably make for a harder decision when looking for food, but ultimately I’m sure it would be beneficial.”
Mandated nutrition labels are a relatively recent requirement. Passed in 1990, the Nutrition and Labeling Acts set food standards, nutrition labeling and health claims for the first time. The acts also standardized serving sizes and requirements for foods deemed “low fat” and “light”.
At that point in time, chain restaurants were exempted from these regulations. The current actions of the FDA represent the evolution of food labeling legislation.

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Campus: FDA nutrition rules a positive change