California’s law requiring that chain restaurants post calorie counts for their foods took effect earlier this month. It’s already producing results, as two chains, Macaroni Grill and Denny’s, are reexamining and revising their offerings.
According to the Sacramento Bee:
Romano’s Macaroni Grill, with four locations in the [Sacramento] region, has managed to squeeze a whopping 880 calories out of just one salad, as the chain’s menu undergoes a massive revamp under new ownership.
The new [Denny's] Grand Slam – two eggs, two sausages, two bacon slices and pancakes – is a build-your-own option with substitutions such as chicken instead of pork, egg whites, turkey bacon and whole wheat pancakes. For another 49 cents, add-ons such as yogurt are available.
With the healthier options, the Grand Slam drops from 882 calories to 546, not to mention a 70 percent drop in fat grams.
This is a nice bonus of menu-labeling: some restaurants will be too ashamed to continue offering items like 1,200 calorie salads and will look for ways to make their foods more healthful. Although we’re sure there will be complaints about a person’s individual freedom to eat as much crap and be as fat as he wants, we think the public health benefits outweigh such concerns (especially considering that in the instances here, Denny’s is keeping things like Moon Over My Hammy intact, and the type of person we just described probably wasn’t celebrating his gluttony with a 1,200-calorie scallop and spinach salad at Macaroni Grill).
Although it’s good to see restaurants retooling their menus, the main purpose of menu-labeling laws is to allow consumers to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. It’s up to you, not the restaurant, to ensure you eat reasonably.