Sticker shock: calorie counts on menus in Kansas City

That thick, juicy slice of deep-dish bacon cheeseburger pizza might look pretty tasty until you learn it has an unappetizing 450 calories.

Under new federal regulations expected to take effect in mid-2012, this calorie-count sticker shock will show up on menus and packages for some of your favorite meals and snacks at chain restaurants, bakeries, convenience and grocery stores, coffee shops and vending machines.

But some area food operations aren’t waiting until next year and are already complying, and others that will be exempt from the new regulations are voluntarily adding nutrition information.

While companies are having to embrace the regulations and cover the costs, some observers aren’t expecting people’s eating habits to change much.

“It helps them make an educated choice,” said Michele Schmal, vice president of the research organization NPD Group. “But I don’t think it is going to make Americans a lot skinnier. Consumers have a tendency to go back to their old ways.”

Still, regulators say the labeling changes are the right thing to do.

“What we are finding is more and more people are eating out, (and) they want clear, easy-to-understand nutrition labels,” said Michael Herndon, spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The proposed rule changes, officially called the Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments, are part of the omnibus health care reform law that was signed last year.

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