Some produce suppliers see an opportunity for increased demand with the Food and Drug Administration's menu nutrition labeling regulation. ( Courtesy FDA )

It seems that most produce suppliers and even those in the restaurant industry are pleased with a new federal Food and Drug Administration regulation that requires many restaurants and retail food establishments to disclose the number of calories contained in standard items on menus and menu boards.

The rule, which took effect May 7, applies to establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations.

On request, those businesses also must provide written nutrition information listing total calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and protein.

Cicely Simpson, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, called the regulation “a welcome development for both the restaurant industry and consumers.”

“By setting a clear standard, this rule provides the necessary guidance and expectations for America’s restaurants to follow in order to continue delivering a high-quality experience and customer service to everyone who walks through our doors, as well as the transparency our customers demand,” she said.

The association applauds FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and the Trump administration for working with the National Restaurant Association “to push this policy across the finish line,” Simpson said.

Our industry has an opportunity to help send the message to consumers that eating fresh vegetables can lead to better health.

The new rule likely will help boost sales of fresh fruits and vegetables, said Mike O’Leary, vice president of sales and marketing, fresh-cut division for Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif.

“Our industry has an opportunity to help send the message to consumers that eating fresh vegetables can lead to better health,” he said.

“As consumers continue to learn more about their diet, fresh vegetable suppliers will benefit.”

Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, marketing and culinary director for Salinas-based D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, believes listing nutrition information will help change consumer eating habits.

“Providing the calorie information will inspire consumers to select better-for-you options when dining out or even try out new menu items that they would have otherwise strayed away from,” she said.

She said the company hopes that the requirement “challenges foodservice operators to create more inclusive menus for all patrons — whether they are for those who are mindful of their calorie consumption, have special dietary restriction or are feeling a bit indulgent.”

Providing the calorie information will inspire consumers to select better-for-you options when dining out...

But some produce suppliers aren’t convinced that posting nutrition information will make a major difference in what consumers eat when they dine out.

“It stands to reason that if people are more aware of the calories of an item, they might make different choices,” said Dave Johnson, salesman for Gold Coast Packing Inc., Santa Maria, Calif.

But he wonders if a lot of consumers will “get overwhelmed with too much information” and ignore the listings.

He said some people might pay more attention to how their food is prepared — such as baked or fried — rather than the number of calories.

Overall, consumers are developing a “better awareness of what they should be eating and what they should not be eating,” Johnson said.

Obesity actually has increased since food manufacturers began listing nutrition information on consumer packaging.

But at the same time, he said he sees new fried chicken eateries popping up all the time.

“There doesn’t seem to be any lack of growth in that area,” he said.

Verne Lusby, who recently retired as president of City of Industry-based FreshPoint Southern California, a wholly owned subsidiary of Houston-based Sysco Corp., said it’s likely that a few consumers will care about the postings, while others will continue to eat what they want.

He pointed out that obesity actually has increased since food manufacturers began listing nutrition information on consumer packaging.

The only time nutrition information would make a difference for him would be, if two items were equally good, he might choose the one with fewer calories, Lusby said.

 
Comments