Menu labeling Menu labeling has been a booming issue in the media today. The obesity and heart disease rate in America has been a real problem and needs to be corrected. One way to do this is to provide nutrition information to the consumers who dine out on a regular basis. Menu labeling should be mandatory in all restaurants because it prevents obesity and chronic diseases, allows a consumer to use personal judgment to make informed choices about what they eat, and leads to nutrition improvement in restaurant foods.
Therefore, it is essential for restaurants to use menu labeling to guide consumers to make smart and healthy decisions Americans on an average eat out 4-5 times a week, so it becomes vital to know what is being put into the body. It is known that Americans are spending 45% of their food dollars outside their homes, in places such as restaurants, airplanes, and vending machines.
Many restaurants do not have nutrition information readily available for there consumers, but in 1997 the Food and Drug Administration ruled that the health claims made for food served in restaurants must be consistent with the claims established by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, also known as the NLEA. The NLEA was expected to help by providing nutritional information to assist consumers in making healthful food choices, but have done a very unsuccessfully job.
The NLEA has always focused exclusively on packaged foods, and therefore all the studies are unclear because a lot has not been generalized on restaurant foods (Kozup,Creyor , and Burton 19). Some states have taken the initiative to pass some laws to make sure most chain restaurants are providing the consumers with the proper nutritional information. New York being the first state to do so, Passing of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, titles “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants”.
This law requires any chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, to have nutrition information readily available to all consumers (“Trans fat”, 2010). Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are by far the leading causes of morality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths (“Chronic”, 2010). Obesity is also doing a lot of damage to millions of Americans, contributing significantly to sky rocketing health care costs threatening the country’s productivity.
Two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and nearly one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Instead of the obesity levels going down every year they are drastically rising higher. Obesity related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes continue to remain highest in the southern states (“F as,” 5). With menu labeling laws in effect, people will have the ability to look into their children’s diets and make healthier choices for them that will keep them safe from future diseases.
Though Americans eat out more than ever before, few restaurants provide nutrition information at the point of ordering. As a result, people often get more unnecessary calories, fat, and salt than they realize. Without clear, easy-to-use nutrition information at the point of ordering, it’s difficult to make informed choices at restaurants. Few people would guess that a small milkshake has more calories than a Big Mac or that a tuna sandwich from a typical deli contains twice as many calories as the roast beef with mustard.
With ought knowing these nutritional facts, how will consumers ever stay healthy? The answer is to start labeling menu’s with the correct nutritional facts, so consumers can investigate and observe what they are about to digest. For example a consumer might think a turkey sand which is a light snack and grabs it from deli after the gym, and comes to realize later that going to the gym was pointless because the sand which contained high levels of calories and they were unaware of it.
Menu labeling would be a huge benefit to the health freaks out there and people that are just trying to stay healthy (“Menu-Labeling”, 2009). Not only does providing nutritional information on menus help consumers, but it will force restaurants to make a healthier change in their foods. Requiring restaurants to provide point of purchase nutrition information could help reduce obesity by promoting the introduction of healthier menu options. Consumers should have equal rights to know about their food,” says Diage, a graduate student in public health at the UW. “Why is it that when I go to the grocery store, I have a right to know the calorie and nutritional content of the packaged food I buy, but when I go to a restaurant, I don’t? ” Since the average consumer does not know exactly what is being digested when they are sat inside a restaurant, it is much more common for them to get careless and just order what looks good, instead of ordering what is best for their health. In the long run, I think it will not only change purchasing habits, it will also change the food foods offered on the menu,” Diage says. “I think once this information is available, people will begin demanding healthier food options. ” It is a natural instinct for humans to do what feels right, but once the menus are labeled with nutritional facts it will be hard for them to ignore this information and there will be a higher demand for restaurants to serve healthier food choices (“Will Calorie”, 2010).
The opponents of menu labeling argue that , it is simply not practical for restaurants to have menu labeling since many dishes are combination dishes with ingredients too large to be cited, and restaurants offerings are not standardized, different ingredients may be used when the chef runs out of one item leading to a different brand of purchased item. According to Almanza, Nelson, and Chai (1997), foodservice is a small part of the industry which is incorporated of thousands of individual operations, most of which are independently owned and relatively small.
The study investigated that the lack of central facilities makes standardization difficult. Chefs at i Ricchi Restaurant in the District say that no two dishes are prepared the same every time, they also added that more than 60% of their restaurant orders are customized (Higgins, 2003). In cases where nutrition standards and databases are developed, operators are faced with the challenge of finding space on menus that are already overcrowded or identifying an additional location that is readily accessible to customers (Almanza et al. ,1997) .
By applying nutrition information to the menus, it will cause more overcrowding which will make it difficult for consumers to follow the menu and make their selections accordingly to their need. Research and studies show that menu labeling leads to fewer obesity rates and less chronic diseases, and also allows consumers to use personal responsibility to make informed choices about what they eat, and finally there was a tremendous amount of research that shows that by having menu labeling laws, restaurants are forced to provide healthier choices for consumers.
Staying healthy not only improves an individual physically but helps to fight diseases that are constantly trying to bombard our bodies. Eating is how humans gain nutrition and if one does not know what is being put into their bodies how can he or she expect to stay healthy? With the given factors, menu labeling should be used to help consumers make responsible choices for