A new online poll released by the Associated Press finds that a majority of Americans support government-mandated calorie counts on menus. The AP-GfK poll was conducted shortly after the Food and Drug Administration issued a command that restaurants and establishments with prepared food must label the calorie content of food “clearly and conspicuously.”
More than half of Americans favor requiring calorie counts to be displayed at fast food restaurants (56%), sit-down restaurants (54%) and on prepared food at grocery stores (52%).
Slightly fewer approved of requiring the calorie postings in other dining locations. Forty-nine percent of Americans supported posting calories on coffee shop menus and 44 percent approved of the postings on vending machines and at movie theaters. Forty-three percent favored calorie postings in amusement parks. All of those establishments will be required to post calorie amounts under the new FDA rules.
Sadly, only one in ten Americans opposes government-mandated labeling requirements at the aforementioned places. The operative words here are government-mandated, as many establishments have nutrition information available to the public either in their establishment or on their website already. Another possible alternative to a government mandate is that people educate themselves about nutrition and caloric values so they have some idea about what they are about to eat or order off of a menu.
The survey also found that Democrats and women are more likely to support the government mandate. That’s not to say that a majority of men and Republicans do not support mandated calorie counts on menus, but that a higher percentage of women and Democrats do.
According to AP,
The idea behind the rules is that people may pass on that bacon double cheeseburger if they know it has hundreds of calories and, in turn, restaurants may make their foods healthier to keep calorie counts down. The menus and menu boards will tell diners that a 2,000-calorie diet is used as the basis for daily nutrition, noting that individual calorie needs may vary. Additional nutritional information beyond calories, including sodium, fats, sugar and other items, must be available upon request.
This is ridiculous. Is there anyone out there who does not know that a bacon double cheeseburger is a high-calorie food choice as compared to, say, some steamed vegetables or a grilled chicken breast? What we have here is the attempt to psychologically intimidate food consumers into making “approved” food choices with the force of government. People who are concerned about their health and diet will make the effort to educate themselves about calories and diet independently of punitive measures to the food industry by the nanny government.
The labeling requirement comes at a cost, around a billion dollars to the food industry. If you don’t think that cost is going to be placed squarely on the consumer in the form of higher prices, think again.
Additionally, Americans say they are already informed to the point where they can make smart food choices at restaurants. “Sixty percent say they now have enough nutrition information at sit-down restaurants and 56 percent say they do at fast food restaurants. That number drops to 48 percent at prepared food counters in grocery stores.”
Only one-third say they do not have enough information to make healthy purchases, which makes this further expansion of government authority to micromanage what people put in their mouths all the more absurd.