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Counting Calories, But Not For That Margarita


McDonald's may soon have to post how many calories are in a Big Mac and fries under the government's new proposed guidelines, but it looks like the popcorn at your local movie theater is off the hook. And so are the alcoholic drinks at your favorite Applebee's or Olive Garden.

Evidently, calorie counting comes to a halt when it's booze or the stuff you munch while watching "The King's Speech." Under the proposed menu labeling rules, you won't know that a medium tub of popcorn and a soda is well over 1,000 calories, or that the slushy margarita you ordered at Applebee's is undoubtedly over 300 calories.

Excluding alcohol doesn't make a lot of sense, writes Peter Smith of Good Food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposed rules require that all "chain restaurants, retail food establishments, and vending machines with 20 or more locations" list the same kind of nutrition information you find on the backs of packaged foods.

So why not that frozen daiquiri or frosty mug of beer?

Because the FDA can't step on another agency's toes. As  Tim Carman of the Washington Post explains, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has authority over most alcohol labeling. The FDA wouldn't comment to the Post about the issue, but it encouraged the public "to provide comments on whether or not alcoholic beverages should be covered under the nutrition labeling requirements."

So what do you think? If Olive Garden has to post how many calories are in their lasagna, should they also have to post how many are in that glass of shiraz? And should movie theaters be exempted from telling you the caloric damage from that bucket of butter-flavored popcorn and large soda?

Or would you rather just not know?

Photo credit: Lee Coursey via flickr

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