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Butter Battle at the Movies

Proposed federal law would require theater chains to disclose nutritional value of some concessions. Is the Lake exempt?

Popcorn is a relatively healthy snack made indulgent with the addition of butter-flavored oil drizzled — or dumped — into the buckets and bags sold at the movie theater. 

It's a treat long enjoyed by patrons of the silver screen, health risks be damned.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether theater owners must disclose the calorie values of concession stand items like popcorn, pretzels and hot dogs, according to this March 23 L.A. Times story. 

Included in the federal health care reform laws passed last year is a push for more disclosure of nutritional information by restaurants and the operators of vending machines. 

So why movie theaters?  The theory goes something like this: Concession sales account for large chunks of a theater's profit, so federal regulators should hold movie chains to the same standards as fast food chains.

The measure has drawn the ire of theater owners, but a loophole may allow smaller movie houses, even small chains, to skirt compliance — the potential requirement would only effect restraurant chains with 20 or more outlets in the U.S. to make the calorie counts and other information available. 

Classic Cinemas, the Downers Grove-based company which operates Oak Park's , operates only 13. 

The FDA is leaving the door open for smaller chains to voluntarily make the nutrition information available. 

Would the Oak Park theater, an Oak Park icon for decades, choose to comply with the federal law? 

It's hard to say. 

Theater manager Jim Boughamer declined comment for this story and directed questions to Classic Cinemas public relations team, who said a spokesperson was unavailable. 

Edward Downs March 31, 2011 at 03:10 PM
What has hapened to resposibility of the3 individual? If I like a lot of butter on my popcorn that is my decision, not some one else. The gocervment has just gotten stupid when it tries to regulate everything in my life. In this case if I don't want to get fat, I don't have to buy the poporn. That is the simple answer, when the government gets into the situation the cost goes up and the qulity goes don.
Julie Nilson Chyna March 31, 2011 at 06:13 PM
This is silly. How often does a person eat movie popcorn? Once a week at most? For the average person, I'd bet it's less than once a month. No one is under the delusion that butter-slathered movie popcorn is a healthy snack, but a once-a-month treat isn't going to kill anyone.

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