As states continue to adopt laws requiring chain restaurants to include nutritional information on menus, Congress has been considering proposals for a national menu-labeling law. This week, members of Congress, the restaurant industry, and consumer groups reached agreement on a proposal that they hope to introduce this summer.
Kellogg has announced that it’s going to start adding fiber to about 80% of its cereal product line, beginning with Froot Loops and Apple Jacks in August and continuing into other brands through the end of 2010. The goal is to bump up the fiber per serving to 3 grams, which is the amount the government requires to label a food a good source of fiber for kids.
Last May, we reviewed which fast food and chain restaurant websites were sharing nutritional information with customers and which ones weren’t. Red Lobster has always been stingy about nutritional info, so we’re happy to report that they’ve finally changed their ways and now offer an online and downloadable nutrition guide. The only thing we can’t figure out is how their “1 1/4 lb” steamed lobster is only 45 calories—that works out to about 1.5 ounces of actual lobster. (Thanks to zlionsfan!)
The Wall Street Journal takes a good look at items marketed as “healthier for you” on supermarket shelves, and as you can probably imagine, any actual health benefits vary greatly from product to product. Take all natural chicken, for example: if you buy “enhanced” or “plumped” chicken—it will say somewhere on the label that water, salt, and/or carrageenan has been added, but it will still be labeled natural—the sodium per 4 oz serving jumps from 45-60 mgs to 200-400 mgs.
We don’t blame the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA)—
a pesticide an agribusiness trade group—for promoting its interests, but we still think it’s funny that they’ve asked the first family to not grow organic vegetables in the White House vegetable garden. MACA’s Executive Director Bonnie McCarvel sent a long letter to Michelle Obama reminding her of the importance of technology in modern farming, then publicized the letter via an email where she noted, “While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.”
On the other hand, we think the CVS manager in this D.C. store might want to take a look around and see how other stores are doing it. (Thanks to Rob!)
Marketing and PR folks probably dread stories like this one: John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s, said on a BBC radio interview yesterday that you shouldn’t eat too much of their pizza.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has announced a class-action lawsuit against Coca-Cola over its VitaminWater line, on the grounds that it makes deceptive claims about the nutritional benefits of its drinks.
Here’s a grim economics lesson: In Alabama, there’s a law that allows the Sheriff to keep any money that’s left over after feeding the prisoners in the county jail. Can you guess what the result of this conflict of interest might be?
Riley writes, “I remember seeing a couple of articles about restaurant nutrition information awhile back (ie the 2008 Ultimate Fast Food Nutrition Guide) and was motivated to create a site that houses nutrition information for chain restaurants across the country.” The result is Fatburgr, where you can quickly look up info by restaurant or food type.
If you’d like to feel bad, we have a link for you. The BBC’s “Alcohol Experiment” shows you the amount of calories you consumed while drinking last night — or any night — and then translates them into (British) food.
Awhile back we posted about some testing done by a group of local news affiliates that showed that the actual amount of fat (and calories) in certain “healthy” menu items from a variety of restaurants was different than what was listed on the menu.
CBS says that they took a look at the research cited by the marketing campaign from the Corn Refiners Association — which features “people-in-the-know” rolling their eyes and scoffing at befuddled anti-corn-syrup zealots — and realized that “three were sponsored by groups that stand to profit from research that promotes HFCS. Two were never published so they’re funding sources are unclear. And one was sponsored by a Dutch foundation that represents the interests of the sugar industry.”
Subway’s kids’ meals came out on top. Only a third of its Fresh Fit for Kids meals, which include a mini-sub, juice box, and one of several healthful side items (apple slices, raisins, or yogurt), exceed the 430-calorie threshold. Subway is the only chain that doesn’t offer soft drinks with kids’ meals.
So how do you improve the nutrition of your kid’s meal the next time you eat at a restaurant? A spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association gave the following advice:
“Don’t be too alarmed even when [studies] come out and seem hopeless,” said Dawn Jackson Blatner, an American Dietetic Ass>ociation spokeswoman. “With a few swaps and switches, people really can make healthier choices at these fast-food joints, especially when the decisions are made before going in.