Subway, known for its foot-long sandwiches and efforts to brand itself as a healthier alternative to traditional fast food, is bolstering those efforts, announcing Tuesday that it plans to add calorie counts to menus at all U.S. locations starting Monday, April 11.
"For years it has been a priority for Subway sandwich shops to share full nutrition information with our guests so they can make more informed meal choices," said dietitian Lanette Kovachi of Subway.
The food chain announced that customers can see calorie listings on its menu panels staring Monday - a move that preempts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's national menu labeling mandate, which is slated to go into full effect later this year.
As you might recall, the FDA announced in November 2014 that all restaurants, food shops, coffee shops, convenience stores and other food establishments would be required to post nutritional information on their menus.
Implementation of said mandate was delayed in July 2015, and the deadline for compliance was pushed back to Dec. 1, 2016, due to requests from industry and trade associations asking for an additional year. Experts voiced objections to the request, saying that the delay would just give food companies more time to lobby against the FDA's mandate.
However despite these objections, not only was the deadline pushed back, but the enforcement of the guidelines is set to be delayed once again after the FDA issues the final Level 1 guidance. At the moment, the agency is considering all comments that it received on the draft Level 1 guidance and promises to "issue the final guidance as soon as possible."
It should be noted that there is no guarantee that displaying nutritional information such as calorie counts on menus will have a major impact on changing consumer behavior regarding what they chose to eat. Aside from major revelations in certain products, most people have a fair understanding of what they're putting in their bodies and choose to do so anyway. Regardless, the legislation was seen as a means to herald a welcome change in the dining industry and was supported by the National Restaurant Association.
In the meantime, while the FDA's move will represent a major change for other chains and establishments. It will more of the same for Subway, who has been giving ways for consumers to see the nutritional information of its products for years now. The first time was in 1997, when the chain began placing nutritional information on its counters and tray liners.
In related news, Subway vowed last year that it will only source eggs from cage-free layer hens by 2025.
"We want consumers to know the calorie value of our sandwiches and salads but we also want them to know that many of our menu items contain quality calories and are packed with beneficial nutrients from whole grains, lean meats and the wide range of vegetables we serve," Kovachi added.