In the News: Fast Food Giant to Post Calorie Counts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Would you think twice about your choice if fast food restaurants put calorie counts on their menus? The parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Food (Yum Brands, Inc.) said recently that it will voluntarily add product calorie information to menu boards in its company-owned restaurants nationwide. They will also encourage their franchises to provide the same calorie information on their menu boards.

Similar initiatives have been popping up recently, but this is the first on a nationwide scale. California will require chains with at least 20 restaurants in the state to provide calorie counts on menus or indoor menu boards beginning in 2011. New York City also requires chains to post calorie counts on the menu.

Yum Brands has also decided to stop all advertising of their products on television programs aimed at children under 12 and will be launching some online exercise programs to help educate their consumers.

When asked if they will be following suit, McDonald's said it will continue using current methods of informing customers by providing nutritional information on its Web site, on select product packaging, in brochures available in its restaurants and on the back of trayliners.

Kudos to this company for taking steps to educate their patrons! One of my biggest pet peeves about eating out is when you can't find any nutritional information about where you're going- online, in the restaurant, etc. People who want to be informed so that they are able to make good choices aren't being given the facts they need. I understand that this can be more difficult for independent restaurants with one or two locations, but there are some big chains (and you know who you are!) who don't provide this information either.

Do you think restaurants should be required to provide this information? Are you less likely to go somewhere if you don't know the nutritional information about what you're eating?

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Knowing what I know now, after being a member of the Spark community for less than two months, I mostly avoid restaurants where I can't get nutritional info, or reasonably attain it myself through re-creating the recipe ingredients in my nutrition log. Report
There are times when I just walk out when the nutritional information is not available. If enough of us do that they may start to become aware just how many sales they are missing! Report
I agree about Applebee's! No information in the restaurant. But they CAN provide you with a toll-free number to call & request info. That's not helpful when I'm sitting there with my daughter who is diabetic & wondering how many carbs are in everything. Not helpful at all!!!!
It drives me insane when I can't get nutritional information from restaruants. Twice, I have searched the web for info on two different restaurant menus. . . finally resorting to calling and emailing the Company. I was told, the information was not available, but I should be assured that the freshest and most wholesome ingredients were used in preparation of their meals. I don't go to those two restaurants anymore - even though one of them I LOVE. Report
I think they should all have the information available on-lin, in a brochure and posted. You can't always plan ahead where you will end up so on-line doesn't work in that case. You may not have time to read a brochure if you are on the run. However...if it is posted for all to see you can make an informed decision in a matter of minutes. The flip side to this may be that the chains will finally be induced to go the healthy route. If all the "badness" is there for all the world to see they will either be shamed into doing better or sales will fall off and they will have to do better. Win-win for the public...especially our children Report
Finally, we know the truth!! Report
Applebee's is the restaurant that I can NEVER find information for! Hello, it's a huge chain, how can you not post your nutritional info?? The Applebee's in my town doesn't even offer the weight watchers meal, so I just try to avoid going there entirely. Report
As long as they post the information on their website and have brochures at the restaurants, I'm fine with that! I would love to see more of the chain restaurants doing at least that. Report
They need to post the info it would help those of us that are trying to lose weight. If they are hiding info that can't be good and I more than likely don't want to eat there. Report
That's great I am tired of serching the internet for hours looking for this info with no results most of the time. Report
It is about flippity floppity time!

I gave up on fast food 4 years ago but I think information like this is impoprtant for everyone to make informed choices.

Now if I could just get the nutrition info for the Waffle House... I bet if I knew how bad it really was in hard numbers, I would have less trouble resisting their siren's call. Which is why they hide it I'm sure.... it tastes WAY to good to have any redeeming nutritional qualities. Report
I think that this is awesome. It makes me feel like I would be more likely to support their company because at least they are trying to be socially conscious. I hope more companies will follow suit. Report
all resturants should provide nutritional information. maybe if people knew how many calories and fat they were eating they would do something about it, at least they would be informed. Report
It would be much more likely for me to stop at a food chain if they have nutrition facts readily available to me. That way instead of assuming everything is unhealthy I can check out my options. I'm sure this will add variety to restaurant menus and more alternatives to fries and high calorie salads. I'm excited to see this change! Report
I definitely think all restaurants should be required to provide nutritional information on their menu items. There are a few places where I have always enjoyed eating that do not provide the information. I'm getting to the point where I will not eat at those places anymore. It's not enough for some restaurants to provide a handful of "healthy" options - if they don't provide accurate nutrition info on those items it is still difficult to see how they fit into your diet. I am especially disappointed and disgusted with restaurants who promote items as "healthy" when they are just as full of fat and calories as other items. Sure, you may get some extra veggies, but you have to take it with all the fat and calories that you were trying to avoid! Report
I think every restaurant chain should do this. If they have faith in their menu, then they shouldn't be afraid to post the nutritional info. It might even bring in more customers because they will now have the facts to make better food choices. Report
I am so thrilled. I've always had to ask for the nutrition information & a lot of places don't have the information available. I diet by counting calories & I hate to eat anywhere that I don't know what the calories are for the food I am ordering. Report
If I can't find the nutritional information for a restaurant, I always email them to complain. They usually reply that it would be impossible to post that information, because each meal is made differently at each restaurant or something like that. I think it is just a cop out, because they are afraid that we won't eat there if we know. I try to avoid those places. I do wish it was nationally required. Report
I think this a on great idea and all fast food restaurants should be required to post calorie counts. Report
finally, the truth will be available!!! Report
I think there should be info available on-site and online.. I just found out today that my favorite coffee-drink is close to 500 calories. I didn't know that until I went to a calorie counter database to research it. I've been sabotaging myself all this time because I didn't know where to find the content sooner. Report
I do not think that restaurants should be legally required to post calorie counts or other nutritional information. I think that they should be required to have that information available to customers who ask, just like manufacturers of packaged foods. This would allow those of us who are concerned with these things to get the information we need to make the healthiest choices for ourselves, but it would not interfere with the restaurant's right to make decisions about marketing and decor.
Overall, I am not convinced that this is an issue that we need our lawmakers to resolve for us. I think that as individuals, we need to reward those businesses that are willing to help us meet our health and nutrition goals. No one really thinks that McDonald's or anyone else is going to close their doors because we chose to eat somewhere else. But business leaders are always looking to improve their market shares, so if there are a large number of consumers who want the information, they will find a way to get it to us. Report
I live in NYC, and I have noticed several things happening because of restaurants being forced to post the calorie info on menus:

1. It makes the public more (sometimes painfully!) aware of how many calories are in the food they would normally eat
2. People (that I know) are more likely to change what they eat based on the posted nutritional info to find similar, but healthier options at the same restaurant
3. It makes it easier to make better choices on the fly, without having to do research on a website before going to the restaurant!
4. Restaurants that have REALLY unhealthy food are changing their portion sizes and ingredients to lower those totals to make the food more marketable. YAY!

As a consumer, I think it's awesome! I believe in a free-market, and allowing consumers to easily see what they are buying gives power to the buyer. Those who would rather ignore the info can do just that. Restaurants that would prefer to "fool" their customer base don't deserve to have my business. Report
Congratulations to YUM Brands, for recognizing the importance of public awareness ! A lead that others should follow.... Report
This is a fantastic move for Yum Brands, Inc. to make. Not only will it increase their sales through adding this benefit of knowledge to it patrons, they will also bring nutritional awareness to the entire nation by putting that information in the forefront. :-) Report
Part of the reason I don't enjoy going out to eat anymore is because you really have no clue what is in your food, from the amount of calories, to how much salt is in it. This would make me more likely to go to one of these establishments. Report
There are a couple of bigger restaurants that I know of near me that don't have nutrition menus or even nutrition info on their website. I tend to avoid places like that. I have to guess on weights/amounts. I could bring a scale or measuring cups, but that would look kind of silly. Even if they had it just for their "standard" menu items that would be somewhat useful. Report
I would definitely support restaurants that make their nutritional info readily available! Report
This is a really good move on their part. I don't think that people are going to frequent these restaurants less because they are scared of the calories. Rather, people like me will be more confident going into the restaurant because they'll be able to make an informed choice. Those who aren't interested just won't look at the chart. Yum Inc may even make more money because the healthier choices tend to be the costlier ones on the menu. Report
I rarely eat out, especially alone. But today, I was shopping and got hungry. I went to ChickFilA's because I know they have a chargrilled chicken sandwich for 270 calories and it is delish! Didn't even need mayo because the lettuce and tomato made it nice and moist. But I went to the chart on the wall and double checked the calories and brought home their nutritional guide. Sure makes one feel better when you know the facts. Report
Great idea, that ought to scare the food right off my plate. Report
I hope that more restaurants start to do this. When we are going out to dinner, I always look at the menus on line first and sometimes they have nutritional information. From there I try to decide ahead of time what to order. But when I cannot do that, it would be nice to have a way to look this up at the restaurant. Report
I would make a point to support companies who provide this information, even if it's only as an occasional treat- my occasional treat would always be there! Report
I think this is a great idea. We have no way of know how many hidden calories are in some of the food. Sometimes what you think will be a healthy choice really isn't. By putting the nutrition facts up front for us to see will let us make wiser choices. Report
This is an excellent step in the right direction.. I hope these changes will help people to think twice about what they are ordering..

Im most proud of them for not aiming there advertising at young children!! WTG YUM!! Report
some of the WORST food chains in regards to calorie counts are Chili's, and TGIFridays. Very popular restaurants. very fattening and overportioned foods. They do not have any of their nutritional values available online or in the restaurant. Even something that MAY seem healthy at a restaurant may not be. Applebee's has two dishes that seem very similar when reading the menu: Grilled Herb Chicken and Fiesta Lime chicken. The Grilled Herb chicken is part of their weight watchers menu so the calorie content was posted while the fiesta lime chicken was not. What's NOT similar is the fiesta lime chicken easily has over 1000 calories, the grilled herb chicken has around 400... I was able to do a search on the boyfriend's iphone and was able to make the healthier choice! Report
Way to go Yum Brand company!!! I wish all food places would post nutrition info. It would make feeding my self and my family , on the run, much easier.
I hope it catches on.
I absolutely think chains should provide nutritional information. I have stopped going to places that don't make it easy to find their nutrional content online. It makes it much easier for me to eat at restaurants when I can figure out what I would like to eat ahead of time. Sometimes I'll even get something that isn't great for me, but I'll know how much of it I can eat before going over my calorie allocation for that meal. Report
I do think having the nutritional information posted would affect what I ate and maybe even if I ate there at all. I think it should be available for people to make the choice for themselves. I do understand that it is harder for restaurants to post this cause the food starts out somewhat fresh so it may not be exact depending on the cook who prepared it. I do think they should at least attempt to give the information as accurately as possible, at least then we would have a close range to use. Report
I don't eat out often, but I do like to see the calorie count and nutrition values on the menu or in a side pamphlet. More & more customers are becoming aware of what foods they want to eat and I think it will benefit the restaurants as they can adjust their menus by the most popular sales. Report
I like knowing what is in what I eat, I think its a good idea, and it will make me stop and think about if I really want that cheeseburger or the chicken or salad choices. I don't think it's the fast food industry's fault people are overweight, but listing calories etc will be a good thing. Report
I think it's GREAT that restaurants are voluntarily doing this! It means that they are listening and responding to consumers. I think it's inappropriate for the government to mandate these types of rules on private businesses.

I don't go to restaurants where I can't find nutrition information. I always pick Subway over Quiznos because I can find their nutrition information! Report
You have been able to get nutrition counts at most of the big chain fast food places for a long time.
If chili's and applebees can put that info on their "diet choices" surley they could put them on the whole menu. Report
I'm all for restaurants being required to make nutrition information available onsite. At the very least they should have to include the calorie count, fats and carbs. It never ceases to amaze me how they can cram so many calories and fats into what appears to be healthy food! Report
Kudos to Yum foods for doing this! But I also think they should go a step further and offer a full selection of healthy fast-food items as alternatives to the high-calorie, fat-laden ones. I do think all restaurants should be required to disclose the nutritional info about their menu items. By not doing so, they do a disservice to the general public. Report
You have to wonder realistically how many parents would buy their child a big mac and fries if they saw with their own two eyes, the amount of fat and calories they were about to allow them to eat. While it may not prevent an adult from making a unhealthy choice, I know as a parent that if that information had been available 15 years ago when my children were small, I would have DEFINITELY thought twice about some of the items I allowed them to choose. Perhaps this step will have more of an effect on the younger generations. One can only hope Report
Way to go, Yum, Inc! Hopefully other fast-food chains will follow suit. That being said, what i'd really like to see is way less fast-food being consumed by Americans. That was a new year's resolution for me - one that i am STILL working on. But at least with nutritional information available, i can make better choices when i eat fast food. Report
"I disagree. I mean, kudos to them if they want to do it. But I don't think consumers' bad decisions should be their responsibility."

These chains absolutely have a responsibility to the consumer - because we DON'T know how they prepare their foods in the kitchen, and we DON'T know what exactly goes into the food they prepare. And therein lies the problem - how can we make an informed decision without the facts? We may think ordering one of the salads is the smart move, but some of those salads have more calories than the options we think are an absolute 'no'. I get absolutely angry with a chain who won't post their nutrition info somewhere - in a flier or on the web - and my first question is this: Is your food so bad for us that you are afraid of the backlash of posting the nutrition info? Give me a break - if I want to demonstrate 'bad' behavior and eat junk food, I am going to eat it no matter what, but at least with the nutritional info, I can account for it, and make better decisions with the rest of my meals.

For all of us who receive the spark emails for the food showdown - that alone should tell us how misleading some of these foods really are - sometimes, what seems like the worse choice is actually the better of the two. There are just too many unkowns in the world of fast food, in my opinion, for any of us to make truly informed decisions in the absence of nutritional information. Report
I very rarely eat fast food, but sometimes it's necessary. I usually choose Wendy's because they offer nutrition information. With yum following suit it gives me another choice. Report
McD and BK are actually doing this in Germany. Well, the chart is somewhere on the wall, you wouldn`t look normally, but at least it is there. I don`t know, if I would eat less there, because if I go there getting some burgers, it is because I crave for it. And I am going with the self-responsibility. These companies are not forcing me to eat it, right? It is like smoking.. no smoker really believes, that tobacco is not bad your him. Same with fast food: we all know, it is not healthy. Do we need the chart to tell us? Report
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