Starbucks: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (and the Calories)

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Rise and shine, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) drinkers, and see how many calories are in your daily morning pick-me-up.

Not interested? Would you rather live life in oblivion? Well, then you better look away because starting next week, the coffee chain will start posting calorie counts on its menu boards nationwide.

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Starbucks isn’t sure how its customers will react when they are forced to realize how many calories go into each decadent drink the company serves, but rest assured it wasn’t the chain’s idea to alert the media. Rather, it was the Food and Drug Administration that decided it was high time the company unveiled the totals. The Seattle-based chain is hit with the requirement because of a new regulation that demands companies with more than 20 locations post calorie information on their menus.

To be fair, up until now, the coffee giant hasn’t exactly tried to hide its calorie counts — it was just trying not to be too transparent either. Some Starbucks locations already post the information on their boards, in accordance with New York City, for instance, and the totals are also easily accessible on the company’s website and through its iPhone app.

Starbucks also offers many different drink customizations that can cut calories and reduce fat in drinks. The Associated Press highlights that it added sugar-free syrup in 1997, and made 2 percent milk the standard for core beverages in North America in 2007. Customers can also request non-fat milk or no whipped cream, along with many other options — which you likely already know if you’ve ever been stuck in line behind a lady ordering something like a grande-extra hot-soy-3 pump-sugar free caramel-triple shot-latte.

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And the coffee chain isn’t the only that has felt the heat from the new regulations. McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), too, has already begun posting its nutritional information, but the company contends that it made the decision of its own accord, and not because it was forced to. Right.

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Additionally, if might surprise you that when the fast food chain announced its decision to post calories last year, the head of McDonald’s USA at the time asserted that the new information doesn’t actually change the company’s menu mix.

Once the FDA regulation gets straightened out, customers should expect to see more and more national chains publishing their calorie information. The new guidelines are expected to take effect sometime next year, so enjoy the oblivion while you can.

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