Foodservice Equipment Reports

New CDC Survey Shows 57% Of Adults Use Menu Labeling

Two years after a federal law made menu labeling mandatory for some restaurants, a new survey reveals a small majority of Americans are using the information to influence their choices when ordering.

The new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 57% of adults over 18 use menu-labeling information, such as calorie counts, to make menu decisions.

Looking at surveys from 17 states, the CDC researchers found that women were more likely to use menu labels and that labeling helps customers pick lower-calorie options.

The 2010 mandate, part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, requires foodservice chains with at least 20 locations to list calorie information on their menus. (Regulations to implement the law still have not been finalized.)

The new report contradicts some earlier studies and shows that the idea and use of menu labeling is gaining ground. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined the receipts of 1,100 McDonald’s diners. Some of the participants were given calorie information and details about daily calorie recommendations for men and women while others received no information. Both groups ate more than the recommended amount of calories, and there were no differences between the groups, suggesting people underestimate what they’re eating, even with calorie numbers.

In other words, actions, not words, matter in menu labeling.

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