Friday, November 07, 2008

Calorie label round-up

Perhaps in response to the many critics of menu labeling skeptical that the average consumer even knows how many calories they should be eating in a given day or meal, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has started advertising what could be considered general nutrition information-- how many calories adults should consume in a day-- in NYC subway cars. The three-month campaign, which began this past Monday, also includes the number of calories for a few example foods like a giant muffin and a chicken burrito.

Following on the calorie labeling scheme for chain restaurants implemented in July in NYC, Californians will also be receiving even more calorie information. Last week, the state was the first in the nation to require calorie labeling for standard menu items at restaurant chains.

Yum Brands, the owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, has announced that it will voluntarily add calorie labeling to all of its menu boards, but not its drive through menus. Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest thinks this a national "game-changer" due to the size of the Yum Brands' franchises.

It will be interesting to see how consumers respond to the mandatory and voluntary provision of calorie information, in addition to how restaurant chains respond, perhaps by increasing their low-calorie options if they find changes in trends of consumer food choices.

(Example of ads in NYC subway)

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