Enforce Accurate Calorie Counts on Menus

calorie content restaurants

Target: Food and Drug Administration

Goal: Require restaurants and fast food joints to post correct, and verifiable, calorie counts on their menus

Currently, nine U.S. counties and two states require chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus. By next year, a federal law will be implemented to enforce calorie count postings in all chain restaurants, convenience stores, and vending machines. Although calorie counts are supposed to help America’s obesity problem, the calorie counts posted on menus are not always 100 percent accurate, thereby misleading many Americans into eating what they think is healthy. There is no follow-up law that double checks the accuracy of calorie counts in food venues. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should implement a new regulation that would require restaurants to post the correct calorie count, and officials should be required to confirm the accuracy of the posted calorie count.

In 2011, nutritional scientists at Tufts University compared the stated calorie content of 269 menu items from 42 restaurants. The sample size contained a wide range of foods, from fast-food restaurants to sit-down restaurants. It was determined that 52 percent of the foods that were tested had at least 10 calories more than what was stated on the menu. And, alarmingly, 20% of the foods that were tested had 100 calories or more over what was stated on the menu. Unfortunately, consuming an extra 100 calories per day can lead to an extra 10 pounds in one year. In addition, researchers found that the foods with the largest calorie count discrepancies were low calorie option meals on the diet section of the menu. This means that people who are trying to manage their weight by eating lower calorie option meals may be getting more calories than expected.

Consumers should have a right to know exactly what they are eating. By purposefully mislabeling calorie content on menus, restaurants are showing how little they care about American health and nutrition. As a country with one of the highest child and adult obesity rates in the world, a conscious effort should be made to help Americans get healthy. This can only be done if restaurants are open and honest about their products. Sign the petition below and urge the FDA to require food venues to post the accurate calorie content on their menus.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Food and Drug Administration,

I was shocked to find out that many restaurants and other food venues do not post the accurate calorie content on their menus. Although a few states and several counties require restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, there are no follow-up laws that double check the accuracy of the published caloric intake. The FDA should implement new regulation that would require restaurants to post the correct calorie count, and officials should be required to confirm the accuracy of the posted calorie count.

A study conducted in 2011 found that out of 269 menu items from 42 restaurants, 20 percent of the foods had 100 calories or more over what was stated on the menu. In addition, the foods with the largest calorie count discrepancies were low calorie option meals located in the diet section of the menu. This indicates that people who are trying to manage their weight by selecting lower calorie options are instead getting more calories than expected. Alarmingly, an extra 100 calories per day can lead to an extra 10 pounds in one year.

As Americans try to shift toward healthier lifestyles and better nutrition, it is important for restaurants to do the same. Restaurants need to be open and honest about their products, and the FDA should enforce this high quality standard. Please require restaurants to post the accurate, and verifiable, calorie content on their menus.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: yajico via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    Many restaurants use inferior ingredients. They should also list all ingredients in everything served.

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