Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Calorie Count Ruins Eating Out Experience?

There are 450 calories in a Starbucks Grande Caramel Brulee Latter. There are 704 calories in a McDonald's Big Mac. There are 1,156 calories in a whole California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad. This information is no longer secret due to the California Health and Safety Code Section 114094 that requires companies with more than 18 locations to post the calorie count of their dishes next to the price of each plate.

Check out the far right columns in this picture. You can see the calorie count listed directly on the menu! 
While this new added feature on menus near you (at least in California!), you have the opportunity to be more conscious of your dining decisions. However, in looking at online news articles these added numbers do very little as seen in the California Watch's February 1st Daily Report:
"A yearlong study, published last month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found customers' orders were unaffected by menu labeling."
Seeing the calorie count allows for a greater awareness of the amount of food being consumed; however, important aspects of food labeling, such as fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugar, and protein remain unrepresented.

Another fault in the bill pertains to the lack of calorie labeling on drive-thru menus. The bill does not provide legislation that regulates the signage for drive-thru orders. This poses quite a difficulty as a these businesses (such as McDonald's, In N Out, Carls Jr., and the list goes on) gather a great portion of their profits at the ordering window. Those customers that are not leaving their cars in order to gather a more convenient meal -we are all guilty of it at one time or another- are missing out on the 'educational value' that can come from seeing the calories of their chosen entree.