Waiter, There’s a Lack of Disclosure in My Soup

A reader is mad that many restaurants won’t give you the dietary information about the menu. So she wrote a letter to Bertuccis, an Italian place, and sent it to us as well.

Dear Bertuccis,

While I understand the cost that goes into preparing nutritional content for your menu, I think that it would be money well spent.

Obesity in this country has become an epidemic and restaurants are partly to blame. Certainly consumers are responsible for what they eat, but it’s difficult to manage this when restaurants like yourselves neglect to post your nutritional information.

I have read on this site that you suggest that customers inquire with the local restaurants for a list of ingredients as each meal is prepared fresh daily. I have found that the menu at every Bertuccis is exactly the same, and would hazzard to assume that the main ingredients are basically the same.

Given this, I don’t believe that it would be a financial hardship for Bertuccis to compile and provide this information, and you would be doing your part, as a restaurant, to allow your patrons to make educated decisions about what they consume.

Thank you for your time.
Megan G.

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    GOod On Ya! I thought restaurants were mandated to supply nutrition info on demand?

  2. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Feh. If Megan can’t estimate what amount of carbs, fat, proteins, etc. are in her Stuffed Chicken Breast Borghese, she shouldn’t order it.

  3. mrscolex says:

    I think its fair to assume given my comment history that I believe that consumer responsibility is a big issue– I don’t think that companies should have to shell out money to protect consumers from themselves.

    I’ll make an exception with nutritional disclosure. Consumers need to have the tools to make informed decisions and that information shouldn’t be withheld if a consumer wants it. There are plenty of viable reasons other than combatting an obesity epidemic, such as people who are are forced to eat stricter dietary regimens. Some people need to avoid high sodium diets, or maybe some people have to have high fiber diets.

    Although I don’t necessarily agree it should be printed on the menu (because that would certainly be tacky) I do think a pamphlet or even a sheet that can be made available to the consumer upon request is certainly reasonable.

    Bertucci’s website does carry this bit of info for Megan:

    “At this time, we do not have nutrition and/or content information available for our menu items. All our dishes are made from scratch and prepared daily. However, on your next visit to Bertucci’s, you may ask your server or the manager for the ingredient list of a specific menu item. They will be more than willing to provide that information to you.”

  4. etinterrapax says:

    I’m with Sir Winston on this one. The information is usually interesting, occasionally amusing, and rarely genuinely useful. People who are educated about nutritional choices don’t need it. People who aren’t, don’t care. The onus is on the consumer to determine what he or she eats; the restaurant doesn’t force-feed anyone anything. Blaming restaurants for obesity, even in part, because they don’t provide nutritional information is just another way for people to placate themselves about their poor choices. It’s not my fault; it’s the damn restaurants. If they’d told me that the steak under three inches of melted Swiss contained enough cholesterol to kill every man, woman, and child in Rhode Island, I’d have ordered a salad! Please. We both know that’s not what’s going to happen.

  5. Kornkob says:

    It would be interesting if one went to that resturant and said “I’m not sure what I want but to help me make a choice, please bring me the ingredients for each specific entre, please.”

  6. Eric J says:

    For a while Ruby Tuesday’s had nutritional info on their menus for all items. It basically meant that my wife and I stopped eating there.

    Now they just have the info for their “healthy” choices on the back of the menu. So I no longer have to know about the 65 grams of fat in my burger.

    Ignorance is bliss.

  7. LTS! says:

    If you are that concerned about what’s in your food then I suggest making it yourself. Restaurant food is generally unhealthy. Once you accept that, life is so much easier. It’s differnet if you have allergies and asking a restaurant for ingredients in a dish is a reasonable request.

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    what about people with food allergies? shouldn’t they have the right to know that their onion rings were cooked in peanut oil BEFORE they choke to death? Or that they shared the same fry vat as the shrimp cocktail the next guy is getting?

  9. Snowrunner says:

    @LTS!

    It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that all restaurant food is unhealthy, it depends on the restaurant.

    If there is a real chef that makes things from scratch it doesn’t have to be any less healthy than what you cook at home. Having said that: A lot of restaurants cut corners by buying precooked foods (no kidding) and that of course means highly processed food.

    I can’t see one real chef use high fructose corn syrup in any of his dishes, but of course if you buy an industrial soup it most likely will contain it.

  10. Amy Alkon says:

    Don’t eat like a cow and you won’t be fat.

    Really, it’s quite simple. The portions restaurants give you — even the nice ones? I eat…maybe half the piece of meat at a restaurant with what would be considered moderate-to-small portions, and not because I’m some dieting priss.

    What woman who isn’t seven feet tall is really hungry for some huge slab of steak at one sitting? I used to be a little chunkier when I would try to diet. Now, I’m thin as a rail and I eat steak, butter, doughnuts, ice cream, cheese, vegetables with walnut oil, vegetables with olive oil, and salad with lots of dressing. What I don’t eat is anything diet, or anything fat free, or anything processed, or anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.

    Oh yeah, and you have to move your ass, too. And not just from the couch to the refrigerator.

    A book for people who would like to stop eating like cows: The Fat Fallacy, by neuroscientist Will Clower. Another one for people who’d like to learn to eat only if they’re hungry: Diets Don’t Work, by Bob Schwartz.

    No, generally speaking…and with some exceptions, of course…we really don’t believe it’s your hormones. Fork to mouth, fork to mouth…and so on.

  11. AcidReign says:

    …..A nutrition sheet at any small mom and pop restaurant would be guesses. I cook my own home-made fettucini alfredo from time to time, and I have no idea how much fat it has. Of course, with all the butter, whole buttermilk and fresh parmesian, we probably don’t want to know!

    …..I have to agree with Ms. Alkon on portions. I can never finish every item I’m served at a restaurant without feeling like an over-stuffed whale!

  12. suzanne6 says:

    As a consumer and a person who is not grossly obese, I feel I deserve to know what I am eating. When I spend my money, I am able to make choices comparing items that differ in cost by any fraction of a dollar. Why am I not allowed to make decisions based on specific nutritional information.

    I weigh 165 lbs. I want to weigh 150lbs. The difference in calories to get to my desired weight is a mere 180 calories every day, so knowing what is in my food is important to me and eating out is something we all need or want to do and have every right to do. And we have the right to control what we put in our bodies.

    Bertucci’s is afraid people wouldn’t eat there if they published data. I, myself know there were many healthy choices on the menu but the average person trying to lose weight for the first time would have no idea.

    I would ask everyone to please be considerate of those trying to eat right by no inhibiting our right to information about what we are eating.

  13. suzanne6 says:

    @mrscolex:

    I asked for nutritional information at Bertucci’s. The waiter told me what were some of the ingredients but he knew very little about the specifics and there was nothing printed he could offer me.