Thursday, December 22, 2011

Menu Labeling in Action

First, I am kicking myself for not taking a picture especially because I had my camera in my purse.  
Today I had lunch with friends at a Panera Bread. Like Ruby Tuesday, it is a chain restaurant that will be required to post calorie information within the next year.
But Panera is not a sit down and order establishment so to have the information at the point of purchase, it has to post it on the menu board.  
I noticed it today as I was in line.  Next to each item, all across the walls of the menu board, behind the long double counters, are numbers.  The first number is the price and next to it, in a lighter color and in narrower font, is the calorie information.   Sometimes the numbers for calories are given in a range.  The truth is that the number is not ever likely to be the exact amount, but it is a place to start.

This is a new policy and it will need to be evaluated.  Some smaller studies have been done.  I have read them and blogged about them.  We find that if a person sees the information, knows what it means both generally and specifically to their bodies, and uses it, then caloric intake is reduced.  
The new policy includes directions and maybe funds, for education and promotion regarding calorie control.  The display that I viewed today was not prominent and there was no prompt to bring attention to the posted information.  I am not surprised that it is there but not highlighted because many restaurants are wary of posting the calorie and other nutrient information for their products, as we might find some of it shocking.

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