|Do You Really Want To Know?
by Barbara Daniels
Hi Bob - if any of your readers are calorie conscious like me then
they'll surly be interested in the fact that effective in May 2017, the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require disclosure of
calories and other nutrition information for standard menu items on
menus and menu boards. All chain restaurants and similar retail food
establishments with 20 or more locations nationwide must make
these disclosures, but many grocery and convenience stores,
bowling alleys, movie theaters, sports venues and vending machines,
will be subject to the rules as well. But so what, we're beer drinkers.
Ah, there's the rub. Beer you see is included in all of this.
The FDA is will be requiring a list calories for alcohol beverages,
including beer. In general, FDA expects a separate calorie disclosure
for every alcoholic beverage, including every beer on a menu,
especially if beers are listed by brand name or style. The calories must
be specific to the beer or style and to the serving size(s) offered.
Some restaurants may hope to use a single calorie reference for all
beer they offer, but the circumstances under which that can happen
are limited. It is allowed if all the beers on the menu actually have the
same calorie count, but a single calorie reference for all the beers will
not work if the calories don’t match. Similarly, if a menu doesn’t list
specific brands but instead, uses generic terms like “beer,” or “light
beer,” the menu may provide a calorie range (e.g., 95-150 calories).
Since most beers are listed by brand name, style, or category and the
calorie counts are unlikely to match, you can expect restaurants to list
specific calories for each beer offered according to the serving size(s)
offered. Restaurants will also need to make additional nutrition
information available upon request, including calories, calories from
fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total
carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and protein.
Let me be honest Bob. That's got me worried. I often read labels to
see the calorie content and make my purchase accordingly. If one
can of soup as 120 calories per serving and another brand has a similar
soup at 90 calories I go with the latter. Maybe it's silly but I worry
about putting on those extra pounds. Now I'm thinking I just might
opt for the lower calorie session IPA instead of those double and triple
IPAs I do love so very much. Ignorance was bliss before all of this.
Don't get me wrong. I strongly support consumer education,
especially when it comes to informing the public about what they are
drinking. Consider that 80% of beer is sold in a 12 ounce bottle or
cans all ofwhich will eventually have calorie content on the label. I
think that's fine since an informed choice is always a good thing.
Do beer drinkers care about calories? It sure might be since more
than 70 %of beer sold is light beer, with a relatively low caloric and
alcohol content (of course they don't care about taste!)
As for spirits, the FDA recognized in this rule that recipes for cocktails
and hard liquor drinks that are not on the restaurant menu can vary
greatly in alcohol and other nutritional content so you won't see
nutritional information for those drinks.
I do have the answer to dealing with all the calorie labeling of each
beer listed on menus in restaurants and retail establishments when
you go to your local pub. Just don't look at it. I hope I take
my own advice.
Thanks for sending your article Barbara. I agree with you that
nutritional labels on beer is a good thing. If a person isn't interested
in it then they'll drink up as usual though I bet more than a few
people will have second thoughts about having another glass of
beers like Sierra Nevada Hoptimum at 314 calories per serving
(which would take nearly an hour and a half of brisk walking to
burn off.). Then again maybe we should just keep drinking good
beer regardless of the calories but eat a bit less!
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about
anything related to beer/drinking/booze just as Henry did. I select
the best and publish them here. So join in and get writing.
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