New House legislation could roll back Obama-era guidelines about how transparent food companies need to be with calorie information.
Under the Obamacare guidelines, chain restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores would have to post calorie information about all the food they offer by May 7. Under the new House rules, establishments can post a caloric range instead, or list the calories in a single serving of a "multi-serving" meal. If most of a restaurant's orders are for take-out, they can also post that information online instead of in the store.
Food writer and senior editor for The Atlantic Corby Kummer says the new rules will be welcomed by the food industry.
"Nobody likes this in the industry. They worry that people will start buying less food, which they never want to have happen," Corby said.
Kummer noted that one positive effect of the original Obamacare guidelines was that some manufacturers began to gravitate toward offering healthier foods to avoid scaring customers away with high calorie counts. One study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found there was a "significant trend among the sit-down chains toward lowering the amount of calories, saturated fat and sodium on their entree menus at 18 months after the implementation of mandatory menu labeling regulation," according to CNN.
"It has a curbing effect on manufacturers who don't want the sticker shock, and they change the formulations of the products," Kummer said. "People, whether they're noticing it or not, are ordering fewer calories, because the company has decided they're going to change the amount of calories in a portion."
The House bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.
To listen to the entire interview with Corby Kummer, click the audio player above.