orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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January 5, 2013

Changes maybe coming to food menus; vending machines

ORANGE — Criticism of the obesity of America has intensified as specifics for complying with possible new regulations are still being worked out.

New vending machines with the calorie count on the buttons people press to select a drink will be launched in Chicago and San Antonio in 2013.

New menus are showing up in fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s , 755 Texas Ave. in Bridge City, and Whataburger, 2300 MacArthur Drive in Orange.

In April 2011, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published two proposed rules that address implementation of the menu labeling provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The proposed rules are entitled "Food labeling: Nutrition labeling of standard menu items in restaurants and similar retail food establishments," and "Food labeling: Calorie labeling of articles of food in vending machines."

The regulations will effect any food establishment that has 20 or more locations and vending machine operators who own 20 or more machines

“Whataburger introduced a new menu design in July of 2012 to accommodate delicious new items, alongside all of our same customer favorites, rearranged and simplified in categories for Burgers, Chicken and Breakfast to make it easier for customers to navigate.”  Rich Scheffler, VP of Marketing and Innovation of Whataburger said. “This design also incorporated a 550 Calories or Less section of our menu. We are proud to provide a variety of delicious choices on our menu to suit many tastes, including those who are mindful of their calorie intake. In the event new FDA regulations are passed, Whataburger will adjust the menu as needed.”

Businesses are expecting the regulations to become finalized sometime in 2013, with some waiting until the standards have been set before making changes.

“Jack in the Box has changed their menus in states that have required it,” Brian Luscomb, spokesman for Jack in the Box said. “The nutritional information is available on our website and as a handout at the restaurant.”

While many agree the cost of changing menus is costly and time consuming, some will wait until the regulations are out so as to not conflict with the yet to be determined regulations.

McDonald’s has already started posting calorie information on their menus nationwide.

A representative from a local vending machine company who spoke on the condition of anonymity said product packages will have to change the packaging of vending machine items to show the calorie count.

Dawn Burleigh is a reporter at The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawnb@orangeleader.com and followed on Twitter @DawnBurleigh

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