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FDA pushes local restaurants for nutrition guides on menus

Published On: Feb 06 2014 08:46:56 PM CST

Local restaurants to consider nutritional menus

POCATELLO, Idaho -

The Food and Drug Administration is pushing harder for new rules on some local restaurants to have them required to provide nutritional information on menu items.  

Although chain restaurants have already started providing this information, some local restaurants said they haven't seen the need for it locally.

"It's something that we're interested in if we knew we had a client base for that kind of menu," ButterBurr's Chief Operational Manager McKenzie Hawk said. "Most chain restaurants already have a nutritionist there, but we don't because we make everything from scratch. But it's definitely something where if there is a push from the community, we would try to make that happen."

Idaho State University Clinical Associate Professor of the dietetic programs Laura McKnight agrees having the menus is a positive push for a healthier community, but said it's harder for local restaurants to fork-up the money to provide this. So, it shouldn't be a requirement necessarily, but more of a suggestion.

"It's difficult for those small businesses because it's going to cost them to do it and do it correctly," McKnight said. "And that cost will somehow be shoved in a different direction and the consumers are going to ultimately pay for that."

She added most chain restaurants have federally regulated menus paid for by federal dollars, whereas it would come out of a local restaurant's pockets.

"It's a great marketing tool...these big companies come up with the big food trends for the year and for the past several years it has always been targeting people's concerns over wanting nutritional information and wanting healthier choices," McKnight said.

But Hawkley said she already tried creating a healthier menu, but it didn't fare well with the customers.

"I'm kind of the health stickler of the family and so I'm really interested in putting out healthier menus, healthier options, but here in this community they want more of the heartier things: like the potatoes, the meats, the hearty soups and the breads," Hawkley pointed out.

Both McKnight and Hawkley said it all comes down to portion control.

For diabetics who are concerned about nutritional information on menus, McKnight said usually diabetics should have consulted with a registered dietitian for diabetic education where they teach portion control and what they can and cannot eat.

FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm248732.htm

Idaho restaurant statistics: http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/idaho

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