Calorie counts are lies, all lies!

Since mandated calorie counts are a weirdly hot topic of discussion here, this story about inaccuracies in restaurants’ nutritional info is worth posting:

From March to May this year, Scripps stations tested food in eight cities from chains that cater to calorie counters by offering special, health-conscious menus — a growing segment in the restaurant industry…

While some items contained only as many calories and fat as the restaurants claimed, many dishes were found to have several times as many calories and fat as the companies stated….

The Macaroni Grill sample showed the widest variance from the menu’s claims. Its “Pollo Margo Skinny Chicken,” which was supposed to have 500 calories, actually had 1,022, according to the testing. The chicken dinner was supposed to have 6 grams of fat. It had 49.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t have to go to these kinds of chains very often, but I didn’t realize voluntarily providing this information had caught on so well. Of course, this doesn’t matter if the listings are bunk anyway.

One might argue that mandating labeling on menus would improve this information, but misleading consumers is already against regulations (according to this article) and chains would still be able to sneakily increase portion sizes in individual restaurants.

I remain unconvinced that requiring precise calorie counts on chain restaurant menus will accomplish much. I suspect restaurants will voluntarily expand their informational offerings for healthier items, hopefully with more accuracy than they do now. As for the rest, common sense may prove just as good a guide for variable, individually-prepared dishes as misleadingly precise calorie counts would be.

Another problem with calorie counts


1 thought on “Calorie counts are lies, all lies!”

  1. I have to admit, that’s actually more frightening than not knowing the calorie counts of what you’re eating. Thinking you know, and being wrong, and being wrong by half is just disturbing.

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