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Acting ahead of a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring food establishments including grocery stores to display calorie information, Wegmans Food Markets has already begun to do so, even though the rule, which was to have taken effect by May 5, has been delayed.
“Our company has always believed that customers have a right to product information, and this FDA regulation is in keeping with steps we’ve already taken at our own initiative,” said Wegmans Nutrition and Product Labeling Manager Jane Andrews. “We want to give customers tools they can use to make informed decisions about what they’ll eat and what’s the right portion size for them personally.”
The Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer said that it would place calorie counts on menu boards in its Pizza Shop, Sub Shop or The Buzz coffee bar, and on signs in Bakery near such bulk items as muffins, bagels and doughnuts. Such information is already available on signs near its self-serve hot and cold food bars, and on the package labels for grab-and-go fresh items like sushi, salads, soups and sandwiches.
“We’re finding that calorie information can be a conversation starter helping people to become more aware,” Andrews added. “A customer may notice, for example, that the meatball sub has more calories than a turkey sub, and use that knowledge to inform their choice of side. Or a customer may want something from the Bakery to go along with the coffee she’s ordering, and use the calorie information to help her decide whether to have a mini-scone, a muffin or bagel.”
This is particularly important, she noted, because Americans consume about one-third of their daily calories away from home, and restaurant meals generally have more calories than home-cooked meals.
“Just knowing the calorie count for something you’re thinking about eating or drinking can help you decide how much you want to eat at this meal or at this time – and that’s a good step in a nation where two out of three adults are above their healthiest weights,” observed Andrews.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 92 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.