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Calorie Lists May Be Required For Chain Restaurant Menus

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Big changes could be coming to your favorite restaurant. Chain restaurants could soon be forced to list calorie information right on the menu.

Weijia Jiang explains why some say it’s necessary.

When Casey Ring goes out to eat, there’s one thing he always thinks about: taste.

“I don’t know what goes in the food, anywhere,” Ring said.

One thing he doesn’t think about? Calories.

But like it or not, diners might soon know exactly how many are in what they order.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed new requirements for chain restaurants here in Maryland and across the country. If passed, calorie counts would be printed on all menus, menu boards, and drive-thrus.

“When you see some of your favorite entrees are almost a day’s worth of calories, you will think twice and make a different choice,” said Alison Massey, dietician.

Many restaurants have already taken upon themselves to publish calorie information on drink containers and food wrappers. Consumers have mixed feelings about whether it makes a difference.

“It still doesn’t stop people from eating double cheeseburgers,” said Kevin Dean, Baltimore diner. “I think it’s more of a lifestyle change than a menu change.”

“I find it helpful, and at that point I can decide whether to be bad or good,” said Sandy Ruiz, Baltimore diner.

Bill Packo, who manages The Greene Turtle in Fells Point, is mixed, too. He says calorie info could be helpful, but only for those who want to be helped.

“I’m not calorie conscious when I go, but that’s not to say it’s not a good information piece to have on the menu,” Packo said.

If this proposal goes through, an estimated 280,000 establishments will be printing calorie information by 2012.

The new rules would also apply to vending machines.

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