Sorry gluttonous beer drinkers: Restaurants will soon have to list calorie counts on their menus, and that includes beer and wine. Last November, the FDA announced that all chain restaurants with 20 or more locations must include nutritional information for both food and beverages (including those that are alcoholic) in an effort to curb the nation's obesity epidemic. Draft writes that while the compliance date has been pushed back, the beer calorie counts will definitely hit menus by December 1, 2015, which means Americans only have four more months to drink and dine in ignorant bliss.
How will chains that have large craft beer menus make this work?
According to Draft, restaurants will be required to not only list the calorie counts, but also other nutritional information such as sodium and carbohydrates for their drink offerings. The rules apply to beers that remain on the menu more than 60 days per year, which means "some one-offs and seasonal will be exempt." Draft predicts beer offerings at restaurants may change because of the new rules. Because the burden to display nutritional information is on the restaurants, they may only choose to buy from breweries that are able to easily supply them the required information. This means it may be difficult for chains to buy products from craft breweries, a choice that is becoming more and more popular.
Many are doubtful that the new requirements will actually cause any behavioral changes. Annica Kreider, a spokesperson for pizza chain Mellow Mushroom, tells Draft: "I think beer lovers are like food lovers; they're going to indulge in what's important to them and compensate elsewhere." Studies have also shown that displaying calorie counts may not be the best way to curb consumption. Instead, researchers found listing the amount of exercise required to burn off the menu item was more effective.