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Beer calorie counts to hit menus this year

FDA regulations mean there's no more ignorance-is-bliss for beer drinkers.

CALORIE COUNTERUPDATE, July 9, 2015: The FDA announced this morning that it will push back the mandatory compliance date for listing calorie counts for alcoholic beverages until Dec. 1, 2016. Read the full statement here.
Count this as a win for nutritional transparency or a real buzzkill for blissful imbibing: In order to comply with new FDA regulations, some chain restaurant menus will have to list calorie counts (as well as information about fat content, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber and other details) for beer and other alcoholic beverages alongside food by the end of 2015. The rule applies to restaurants with more than 20 locations, and only applies to beers that are on the menu for longer than 60 days per year, so some one-offs and seasonals will be exempt. Still, it has restaurants, distributors and breweries puzzled. Regulators plan to issue additional guidelines in the coming months to clarify some still-outstanding questions about logistics. Thus far, the Brewers Association has led the charge in clarifying what these new rules will mean for breweries. According to a Q&A between the FDA and the BA, restaurants can determine calorie counts based on: the USDA Nutrient Database, brewer-supplied data, calculations with defensible ideas behind the calculations, laboratory analysis and recipes. Because the burden will be on restaurants to display this calorie information, it’s safe to assume that chains will prefer to work with breweries that are able to supply them this information. But will any of it actually change the way we drink? “It seems like a lot of work to put in for just a small change in behavior. I think beer lovers are like food lovers; they’re going to indulge in what’s important to them and compensate elsewhere,” says Annica Kreider, a spokesperson for Mellow Mushroom, a chain of 178 pizza- and beer- focused restaurants. “Maybe they’ll take an extra jog around the block so they can drink that beer.”


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