The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu-labeling regulations for nutrition data may not go into effect until the end of the year, but restaurants are already moving ahead by increasing the number of lower calorie dishes they offer, according to a report from Technomic.

In its MenuMonitor online tracking tool, Technomic has found an increase in the number of dishes with 550 calories or fewer at restaurants.  Technomic said the increase in lower-calorie fare is less about making changes before menu labeling rules become effective and more about staying competitive.  “I think it goes back to the idea of not having a veto vote,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic.  “You need these items on the menu because others have already done it.  Once that happens the rest of the gang follows along.”

The 183 pages of FDA’s proposed menu-labeling regulations were published earlier this month.  FDA issued the regulations one year after President Obama signed the provision into law as part of the federal health care reform, called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.”  FDA attributed its delay to the complexity of the issue. The proposed regulations are available at Comments are due June 1, 60 days from the published date, unless there is an extension of the comment period.