The MEAL Act, a bill introduced by two Democratic senators, would require all fast food and other chain restaurants to provide a host of nutritional data to customers about the food on the menu: calories, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
New York City, California, Massachusetts and other localities have all passed similar rules, which have provided eye-opening facts for consumers trying to watch their weight. It's only been 15 years since te labels on packaged foods have been beefed up -- and while that hasn't necessarily fixed America's waistline problem and certainly hasn't halted the sale of unhealthy foods, it at least provides added information for those trying to eat a healthy diet."Consumers play an impossible guessing game trying to make healthier choices in restaurants," said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Who would guess that a large chocolate shake at McDonald's has more calories than two Big Macs or that a multigrain bagel at Dunkin' Donuts has 140 more calories than a jelly donut?"
Or that some Cold Stone Creamery shakes might take 4 hours at the gym to burn off. Or that you can consume three-fourths of your daily recommended calorie intakes with a single dessert at Chili's. Or that many meals contain four times the recommended daily intake of sodium.
According to CSPI, one-third of the calories the average American consumes comes from restaurant and to-go meals. Those meals also account for half our food expenditures.
CSPI warns people not to confuse the MEAL Act with the LEAN Act, which has been introduced by the food industry, the group says, to obscure and water down existing nutrition labeling laws on the books in several states.
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