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Author Topic: The new FDA calorie labeling mandate on concessions
Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3836
From: Albuquerque, NM
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 - posted 04-24-2015 10:34 PM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From The Frame at KPCC 89.3:

quote:

CinemaCon 2015: Theater owners brace for new calorie labeling mandate on concessions

By John Horn and Michelle Lanz | The Frame - 22 April 2015

The Food and Drug Administration announced last year that your local multiplex will have to start posting nutritional information about all of its concessions by the end of 2015. So by the time you see the next “Star Wars” movie in December, you'll probably know exactly how many actual calories there are in your favorite movie theater snacks.

If you don’t want your moviegoing experience ruined, cover your ears and stop reading now, because that big tub of popcorn can have as many as 1,200 calories — with three days’ worth of saturated fat and as much as 1,500 milligrams of sodium. And that’s without the butter. The butter.

From your body’s perspective, that’s a real horror movie.

At this week’s CinemaCon, exhibitors have been patrolling the trade floor looking at all of the new snacks they can sell to audiences without freaking them out with the new FDA regulations.

A former heart surgeon named Dr. Ron Law has an interesting idea:

quote:
"Edamame at the movies...you might say why edamame at the movies?" said Dr. Law on the CinemaCon trade floor in Las Vegas. "What people choose to eat is changing very quickly. I think theaters are looking for alternatives and this is the answer. I think edamame’s time has come.”
Law is at CinemaCon for the first time peddling his bags of pre-salted soy beans. He calls them Eda-Movie, and boasts that an entire eight-ounce pack has just 150 calories. He thinks his soybean solution should sell for about five bucks.

That money is critical. With box office admissions down to their lowest level since 1995, concessions keep many theaters in the black more than ever. Movie theater owners sold about $4 billion in concessions last year, and they can make as much as half their income from snacks and sodas.

While a lot of high-end theaters have been selling upscale food and alcohol lately, the major chains still traffic in Red Vines and Milk Duds. It’ll be important that popular candies have their own versions of Hollywood sequels — or reboots.

Here’s what’s new from the makers of Red Vines:

quote:
"This year we’re focusing on our best-selling Sour Punch, and it's in brand new assorted flavors," said Liz Negrau, national sales manager for American Licorice Company. "We’re so happy to be able to introduce lemon for the first time, so we’ve got our best-selling strawberry, blue raspberry, and zappin' apple, and now complete with lemon, only available in the four-ounce theater tray."
Now, even if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you soon should be able to get a White Castle burger that has no meat or animal products in it.

quote:
"It's something that we tested last year, we brought it out in January in our restaurants and it did quite well," said Rob Camp, vice president and general manager at White Castle Food Products, LLC. "We're working with Dr. Praeger's on seeing what we can do to maybe bring it out in frozen."
But we all know what we really love for a movie snack.

quote:
"I feel that we need good labeling laws," said Frank Morrison, president of Nebraska Popcorn. "Popcorn without butter on it is only about 45 calories per cup. So really it's a low-calorie food, what we add to it adds the calories."
Ultimately, movie fans may not really care how unhealthy the concessions are. After all, that’s part of the joy of heading to the multiplex, according to John Fithian, the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

quote:
"When people go to the movies they go to the movies to escape the hassles and stresses of their day, and to escape their diet," said Fithian. "I buy things at the cinema for my kids that I would never buy at home, and I think most people are like that. People come to the cinemas because they want to have fun."
Fithian says he’s not worried that the calorie counts will hurt concession sales. Everyone already knows that a Double-Double from In-N-Out is a lot worse for you than carrot sticks — and the lines at that burger joint are just as long as moviegoers waiting to see “Furious 7.”

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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 - posted 04-25-2015 06:20 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I believe you will find that the FDA law only applies to companies with 20 or more "outlets." Hopefully, they don't mean electrical outlets [Wink] .

So small "chains" as well as the "mom and pops" will not be affected (except, possibly by peer pressure if patrons become accustomed to seeing the information at the bigger chains).

I know that the various branches of NATO are active fighting such rules, naturally. As I understand the law, it would require EVERY FOOD PRODUCT for sale to have its calorie count visible prior to purchase. That having a "handout" with the information or just putting it the info on the web site would not be sufficient.

That level could be quite frustrating for theatres since, unlike grocery and convenience stores, where the patron actually gathers their own food and can pick the product up and look at the package first, much of this stuff is in a candy case. Putting the calorie count up on the menu board (particularly the video based ones) shouldn't be the end of the world. Then again, I don't know what the requirement is on the accuracy and how it is determined. Because what popping oil you use or Kernel of corn or flavoring all adds into it and if you change one thing in the preparation changes the nutritional mix.

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Michael Gonzalez
Jedi Master Film Handler

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 - posted 04-29-2015 04:45 AM      Profile for Michael Gonzalez   Email Michael Gonzalez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It will probably end up boiling down to being required to have a flier with the information available to hand out upon request.

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Scott Norwood
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 - posted 04-29-2015 05:35 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How would one even determine the calorie count of a food product that does not come pre-labelled from the factory? I would assume that this involves sending a bucket of popcorn (in every possible size?) to a lab somewhere, but I am curious as to what this would cost and if there is anything else involved.

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Lyle Romer
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 - posted 04-29-2015 06:02 AM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
These requirements are so stupid. Do the "Nanny State" people really think that people are so dumb that they think that snacks purchased at the concession stand are healthy?

All of this crap does is add expenses for businesses that will have to get the food tested. How about a compromise; you just have to have your highest calorie product tested and you put up one sign that says, "food purchased at this concession counter may have up to 10,000 calories." Better yet, don't even require testing, just require a number that will definitely be more than the real highest calorie item.

Note to the "Nanny State," putting up nutritional information doesn't make a difference to what people eat. Here is an article from The Huffington Post (which is certainly not a publication that would be biased against this sort of thing):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/15/calorie-labels-fast-food-menu-restaurant_n_4269147.html

quote:
Calorie Labels At Fast Food Restaurants Don't Make A Difference, Study Suggests

The point of calorie counts on fast food restaurant menus is to spur customers to eat more healthfully, but a new study suggests they might not really work.

Not only do fewer than half of patrons, on average, notice the calorie counts on menus, those counts also didn't seem to have any impact on what they ordered and how often they frequented the restaurant, New York University Langone Medical Center researchers found. They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

Researchers looked at the lunch and dinner receipts from more than 2,000 patrons of Burger King and McDonald's restaurants in Philadelphia before and after the city's calorie labeling law went into effect in February 2010; these patrons were also asked if they noticed the calorie counts on the menus, whether that influenced their purchasing decisions, and how often they'd already had fast food from a big chain that week.

Random phone surveys were also conducted with residents of the city, which asked if residents ate fast food from any big chains in the last three months, and the frequency with which they ate it.

Less than half of patrons who visited the Burger King and McDonald's restaurants noticed the calorie labeling -- 49 percent at Burger King, and 34 percent at McDonald's, researchers found.

Plus, there didn't seem to be a difference in the number of times people ate at the restaurants from before and after the labeling law went into effect -- people ate fast food about five times a week -- nor was there a decrease in visits to fast food restaurants, post-labeling law. (Researchers were able to find this by comparing their data with survey responses from customers of similar demographics at McDonald's and Burger King in Baltimore, which does not have mandatory calorie labeling at fast food restaurants.)

"What we're seeing is that many consumers, particularly vulnerable groups, do not report noticing calorie labeling information and even fewer report using labeling to purchase fewer calories," study researcher Dr. Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of Population Health and Health Policy at the NYU School of Medicine, said in a statement. "After labeling began in Philadelphia, about 10 percent of the respondents in our study said that calorie labels at fast-food chains resulted in them choosing fewer calories."

The findings are similar to past research on the impact (or lack thereof) of menu labeling laws. HuffPost's Meredith Melnick previously reported on research showing that customers notice calorie labels, but they don't purchase fewer calories; another study showed that New York City residents actually purchased more calories after mandatory labeling went into effect in the city. However, a study in teens showed that they were less likely to buy a full-calorie drink if they saw the calorie counts for drinks posted near a beverage case.

The 2010 health care law mandated menu calorie counts for restaurant chains, but the implementation and rules for such are still not set in stone, the Associated Press reported; proposed rules would mandate the labels for restaurant chains with 20 or more locations.


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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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 - posted 04-29-2015 07:08 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The concept of a "flier" has been deemed insufficient (I think the fast food places ruined that concept).

There is a 20-location provision so the smaller chains would not be affected. I could see places like AMC indeed having to have their manufactured products tested and I suspect that cost would not be burdensome to them. They are so corporate, I'm sure they already have rigid policies on preparation and corporate gets to specify what it is buying anyway. I also suspect that places like Odell's would be willing to provide Nutrition info if you used all Odell's brand ingredients.

As to fast food calorie numbers...I can only speak from personal experience. When I decided to loose weight a couple of years ago...those numbers were actually quite useful (and effective) in guiding my way through choices at fast food. I don't claim to be in the majority because most people tend to not think calories when they go to Mickey Ds but when that is your food option that day, it was/is nice to know that one can keep the calories in check. Compare the calorie count of a McDouble versus say a 1/4 pounder w/cheese.

I don't consider having nutritional information to be a "Nanny State." Having laws that keep you from choosing to buy the bladder buster of soda is a Nanny State like law. Giving mere information is in the consumer's (public's) benefit. Telling them what they have to do with that information is another story.

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Scott Norwood
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 - posted 04-29-2015 09:00 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't really have an opinion on whether or not this is a good law, but the biggest implementation issue would be with having to have custom popcorn buckets/bags printed if it is not sufficient to just put the calorie count on the menu board or on a flyer. The big chains (Regal, AMC, etc.) are already doing this, but the smaller ones are probably just using generic packaging that will need to be replaced with a custom version. I suspect that there are too many different combinations of kernels, oil, salt, and the ratio among them for meaningful numbers to be included on generic packaging.

I am still curious about the cost of testing a particular sample of the food--is it a small one-time expense and an easy process, or an expensive and arduous task that needs to be carried out periodically.

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Martin McCaffery
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 - posted 04-29-2015 09:23 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Scott Norwood
I am still curious about the cost of testing a particular sample of the food--is it a small one-time expense and an easy process, or an expensive and arduous task that needs to be carried out periodically.

I don't have an answer, but many years ago I had two identical cans of tuna. Bought same time, same place. I happened to check the nutrition label and saw they had different calorie counts. I was bored, so wrote the company and asked them how this could be. They actually wrote back and explained that different tuna have different calorie levels depending of a variety of factors.
So my take away is:
1) Calorie counts are a continuing process
2) Tuna companies apparently keep detailed databases on the fish they use
3) It's not financially burdensome.
4) If you're counting calories, you have to read EVERY label.

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Frank Angel
Film God

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 - posted 04-29-2015 02:19 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Seems the size by ounces of popcorn would pretty much be predetermined by testing up front -- once those numbers are determined, then it become pretty much an easy implementation of listing based on the portion size. And I suppose the grain companies who package and sell the corn kernels could test their various popcorn kernels and provide that information with each of the variants they offer. Then end users should be able to easily get a count accurate enough to post that information on their bag and tub size.

Same with what calories and fat content the cooking oil adds since you could easily and accurately measure how much is used to cook each batch. Once those figures are established, it wouldn't be difficult to maintain consistency at least based on the size of the container as the corn comes out of the popper. BUT, the problem is, while the bucket of popped corn might have a fairly consistent calorie, fat and salt value, what the patron squirts on it would be all over the place. How would that information be made known? I suppose you could post at the "butter" unit "One quirt of butter flavored grease = 200 calories. Same thing with salt -- "One shake = 100 mg of sodium."

Thing is with this kind of thing, the opponents usually overact to how difficult it would be to implement such regs, that is until it's been in place for a year or so, then it become a pretty routine thing and everyone has it down as just part of doing business. On the other side, the proponents assume this is going to cure some perceived, real or imaginary societal ill, but it rarely has as much of an impact as they think envision it will.

As has been said, those nutritional postings have been on food packaging for decades and we still remain the planet's heaviest porkers. The fast food franchises have been posting caloric counts for over two years now and that hasn't seen any of them going out of business due to it changing, at least in any significant way, the way the American populous chooses to consume their daily intake of fat and salt and sugar.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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From: Annapolis, MD
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 - posted 04-29-2015 06:09 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As I understand it (by a concerned theatre owner that has read/been told the upcoming rules)...the key is that the patron has the information BEFORE they purchase the item. And that a flier is not sufficient for this...it has to be on the menu board with the item.

As for user applied "toppings." At most that would be required would be the nutrition info on the topping per standard unit of measure (I'd think Nutritional Info right on the applicator) and then, at most, how many Ounces per squirt you are getting. And God forbid people see how bad the stuff they are topping their corn with is...it would only lower the cost of operation by not having to buy so much gunk.

Now real butter is likely to still be applied "professionally" due to cost...so again, you'd have to have calorie per/size and have your people rigidly apply the butter based on established amounts.

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