Theater owners have had a tough go of it lately: First it was announced that studios were rolling out a program that would allow viewers to watch new releases on Pay Per View just weeks after they'd been in theaters, even if the outrageous PPV price of $30 isn't likely to have many takers.
And then came news that the FDA wanted theaters -- just like restaurants -- to post nutritional information on every item they served so consumers could make healthier food choices. Naturally, theater owners aren't a fan of either development, but at least they got some good news today. The FDA has decided that movie theaters will be exempt from the new nutrition info rules.
These new rules come as a result of last year's health care overhaul law, which mandated that any chain restaurant or similar establishment that served food at more than 20 locations post nutrition info for all of their menu items where they could be seen by patrons.
Hit the jump to find out why theaters are exempt.
The Food and Drug Administration has tweaked the requirements and now only establishments where the primary objective is to sell food, or where more than half of the location's space is devoted to food sales, will be required to post the info. This means places like theaters, bowling alleys and carnivals are off the hook. It will still apply to supermarkets and convenience stores that serve ready-to-eat items, though. This is good news for theater owners, who don't want you realizing that large popcorn and 64 oz. soda contain more calories than you're supposed to eat in a day.
The new law had the support of the restaurant industry, if only because it creates a national standard for them to adhere to instead of leaving the rules in the hands of individual cities and states. However, theater owners chafed at the idea, saying they weren't in the business of selling meals. "We're not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves," said Gary Klein, the National Association of Theater Owners' general counsel. "It's dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie."
Some are displeased by the loophole that will allow theaters to continue to serve unhealthy food to patrons without them knowing how bad it is. Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said "It doesn't matter whether you happen to be watching a movie while you're eating. Those calories still count."
Wootan certainly has a point, but the question remains – does anyone think a large tub of popcorn and a gallon of soda is actually good for them? Nutrition information that points out the deceptive and devious practices of restaurants (places where things like a salad are worse for you than a burger and fries) is helpful, but do we really need the nutrition values for theater snacks? Given our country's ever-increasing waistline, maybe we do. For the time being, though, many will continue to munch popcorn and slurp soda in ignorance of just how bad it is for them.
[via The New York Times]