I can’t decide now whether it would be better to have easier access to nutritional information at restaurants (i.e. listed on the menu) so that I can make a more informed choice or whether that would simply ruin my enjoyment of eating out. Maybe it would be preferable to remain in blissful ignorance and simply enjoy my meal?
According to an article on the BBC website, the New York Health Department carried out a study following a new law in 2008 forcing restaurants in the city to display nutritional information for customers. That study found that one in six customers used the information provided, with most reducing their calorie intake as a result. This demonstrates that displaying nutritional information may only have a limited impact on how people choose their food in a restaurant.
In 2010, the UK government asked restaurants to display nutritional values on their menus. 32 UK restaurants signed up to the scheme and you will notice that some menus (such as in Wetherspoons and Harvester) do display that information now.
The Food Commission prepared an interesting study in 2008 in which it referred to a public survey carried out in which members of the public were given a list of food items at particular restaurants and asked to guess which had the most fat, for example:-
A – double Whopper with cheese
B – bacon double cheese burger
C – XL bacon double cheeseburger
D – smoked bacon and cheddar angus
Which item at KFC has the most fat?
A – large coleslaw
B – regular popcorn chicken
C – large fries
D – fillet burger
This study illustrates that the general public, myself included, are somewhat ignorant as to the healthiest options at our regular restaurants.
Out of interest, I carried out a bit of research into how easy it is to find nutritional information for UK restaurants online and I discovered that most restaurants provide the information via their websites – albeit some are more hidden away than others!
So, would listing calorie information on menus really encourage healthy eating or is it a step too far that ruins the enjoyment of a meal out?
I would be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions as to whether you would prefer this information to be provided when eating out and whether you think restaurants should be required by law to add nutritional information to their menus?