If the legislation sponsored Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, is approved the Menu Education and Labeling Act would require fast-food and other chain restaurants to post calories on menu boards and food displays. In addition, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates and sodium would be required on printed menus.
The legislation is geared for chains with 20 or more outlets and would exclude small mom-and-pop restaurants and custom orders or temporary menu items at chain restaurants.
"Consumers play an impossible guessing game trying to make healthier choices in restaurants," Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a statement.
"Who would guess that a large chocolate shake at McDonald's has more calories than two Big Macs or that a multigrain bagel at Dunkin' Donuts has 140 more calories than a jelly donut?"
At table-service chains like Ruby Tuesday, Macaroni Grill and Chili's, it's easy to find 1,000-calorie appetizers, 1,000-calorie entrees, and 1,000-calorie desserts, Wootan said.