Fast food labeling

I recently read that Congress is considering a proposal that would require nutritional info to be put on menus next to every food item at fast food and chain restaurants.  Some states already require fast food restaurants to display this material.  While I think that this concept of labeling works pretty well for fast food, I think that’s as far as it should go.

As a consumer, I don’t want to be bombarded with a calorie count and the grams of saturated fat I am about to eat.  When I go out to a sit-down restaurant, I want to eat good food, relax and enjoy myself.  Feeling guilty about the huge plate of pasta I knocked out is not so appealing.  I know this country has an obesity epidemic, which is why I advocate for the fast food option.  But I think that is far as this should go.  What do you think?  Nutritional info on all menus?  None?

H/t to Consumerist and LA Times for the pic.  Also, be wary of chain restaurants, as Eick referenced here.

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18 Responses

  1. Eick

    When I was in NYC the other day I noticed all the places at Yankee Stadium listed the calorie count for everything – didn’t notice it on the menus of sit-down restaurants though. I agree that anything beyond calorie count would be excessive.

  2. Al

    I think you’re basically saying “I approve of waving this in the faces of poor fat people, but keep it out of my face.” Smells classist.

  3. GD

    I’m in favor of having the information located in the restaurant where a consumer could view if they’d like. A bit excessive to have to reprint all menus and have it available on the table.

    In the end, the health conscious consumer wouldn’t be ordering high-calorie junk, and the Big Mac eater already knows he’s eating junk.

  4. Miles

    Regulations often appear excessive at first. But after its been in effect….why not? Don’t people have a right to know what is in their food? Many people have allergies, diabetes, health problems, or just food preferences. If menus became transparent about what was in the food, it would probably encourage better ingredients and healthier menus.

  5. danielle

    actually, i think it’s even more important for sit-down restaurants to be more forthcoming with their nutritional information. pretty much every fast food restaurant posts all of their nutritional information online, yet if you actually want to find out nutritional information for a sit-down chain restaurant it becomes quite difficult. you might not want to know how many calories are in that bowl of pasta, but what about those of us who do?

  6. Mike

    I was actually just thinking about this today at Baja Fresh. QSRs and sit-down chains should definitely have nutrition information on all of their menus. Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing decisions – and chain restaurants need to be held accountable for all the crap they’re feeding us!

  7. SJK

    I can understand he reasoning behind this. Yes, calorie counts and the such make sense in fast food places; but in casual dining, not so much. I just fear how this type of regulation can and may lead to more excessive form of regulation that will do damage to the dining industry in general.

  8. Brian

    It’s really hard to say what should be required. While I would like to see nutrition information readily available for all restaurants, how can we expect those tiny places or restaurants that continually change their menus to comply? And it’s unfair to require only fast food or chain restaurants to post this information.

    I don’t even know that listing nutrition information would help all that much. Common sense should tell most people if a dish is unhealthy or excessive. If they don’t use common sense, should we expect them to use a nutrition guide?

  9. Kari

    I’m very much a proponent of nourishing, healthy foods. It’s what my blog is all about. But, good grief, what ever happened to FREEDOM in this country? The goverment is just chirp, chirp, chirping away in our ears all the time about what we should eat, drive, think, do and be. Let the fast food restaurants do what they do best: sell big, fat, greasy burgers that we all love to eat sometimes. I’m all for their right to be left alone to do business. Quit putting more work on business and cutting into their profits by making them post stupid nutritional requirements. If it made a difference they’d already be out of business because we all know it isn’t healthy. But we all eat it anyway.

  10. Kit

    I’m noticing a trend in these comments, and it’s one I agree with.

    Calorie counts don’t necessarily inspire people to make better food choices–as has been pointed out, it’s a matter of common sense that a ‘salad’ with cheese, bacon, ranch dressing, etc is not going to be much healthier than your average cheeseburger, and everyone knows that.

    What calorie counts _certainly_ do is force restaurants to reprint menus, which is ironically going to be most costly for health-oriented places with variable, seasonal menus. It’s not the restaurant’s or the government’s responsibility to manage my diet; it’s mine.

  11. Miles

    Re: Kit
    “It’s not the restaurant’s or the government’s responsibility to manage my diet; it’s mine.”

    The problem is, nothing is as it seems anymore. Thus, if you believe it is your responsibility to manage your diet (and I agree), then you need to have access to what exactly is in your food too.

    Psst…Soylent Green is People!

  12. Molly

    I love the proposal of listing calories and hope they also list sodium. I have to watch every bit that I eat and rarely eat out because I can never fully trust what I have ordered. It amazes me when I see how much sodium a piece of steak or hamburger have in them. Something are obvious but I have found myself completely amazed about calorie, fat and sodium content in restaurant food. If the information is there I can read it and if you choose to not be informed and eat guilt free you don’t have to read it.

  13. le w

    CBC TV here in Canada did an expose news piece on the restaurant industry 2 years ago. It was interesting to watch how clueless every person was about the nutritional value of the meal they were ordering in a non-fast food restaurant. There were more calories, fat and sodium, than in any choice at McDonald’s. …

  14. Johnna Knows Good Food

    I think calories on menus could be good or bad: 1. Good because you can be a conscious decision about what you’re willing to sacrifice for a bite of that burger or taco; and 2. Bad because it could be accompanied by a lot of guilt in your ordering decisions.

  15. Brett

    You should absolutely put nutrition facts either on the menu or next to it. You would be amazed how many calories are in these things…it;s not always “common sense”. Last night i went to a claim jumper ordered a samon dish thinking it was healthy and turned out it was almost twice the amount of calories i would have guessed because of all the sauce and stuff they slapped on there. With the nutrition facts maybe some of these restaurants with get their calorie count under control because when you have things on menus that are 3,000+ 4,000+ that is just ridiculous. No wonder everyone is fat.


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