Two-thirds of Americans struggle with weight issues, but eating healthy can be a challenge when going to a restaurant or getting take-out food, which accounts for about a third of the average person's total food intake. To help consumers manage their nutritional needs, the FDA introduced new guidelines last November on providing clear and upfront labeling of caloric intake for certain foods and food establishments. The hope is that Americans will start to change their eating behavior and make healthier choices when they can see in advance the number of calories in their favorite foods.

Under the new FDA regulations, calorie counts must be shown not only for the food at sit-down restaurants, but also at other locales including amusement parks and movie theaters serving popcorn and snacks, pizza parlors, self-serve salad bars and buffets, drive-thru windows, ice cream stores, delis, convenience stores or grocery stores making made-to order sandwiches or hot dogs, and coffee shops offering baked goods.

Only chains with 20 or more stores are affected by the new regulations. Calories for alcoholic beverages must be listed as well. The rules also require vending machine operators with 20 or more machines to label their products before purchase is made. While the new rules require chain restaurants to list clear calorie information on menus, they don't require anything else, such as fat content. Other nutrient information — total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein — will have to be made available in writing upon request.

"It's so important to be able to make informed decisions when choosing what to eat," says Kristin MacMillan, President of Imprint Plus, a leading manufacturer of signage and name badge systems. "With the new FDA regulations consumers can keep track of their caloric intake even when they are dining out or taking home fast food."

A great way to communicate nutritional information and calorie content to customers is through the reusable signage systems from Imprint Plus. The signage kits are a fast and economical way to make customized signs. With the patented design software, stylish signage is created on-site by simply typing in the details about the food item, adding a photograph or food establishment logo if desired, and printing the patented inserts using a standard laser or inkjet printer. The inserts slide into the signage, which can be used again and again. When a menu item changes or there is a special promotion, the insert can easily be replaced. The signs are also food safe and can be wiped clean. 

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