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Rose Reisman


Should We Force Restaurants to Display Nutritional Information?

Posted: 05/02/2013 8:02 am

Often I wake up and think, "Is this groundhog day?" You remember the movie with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. Everyday he woke up and the same day was repeated over and over again.

This is how I feel when we are consistently having reports on restaurants "opening their kimonos" regarding the nutrients of their food. We have been discussing this for years. But unlike New York, nothing has been done. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City forced restaurant chains to post their nutritional information right beside their menu items, bold and clear. With clear labelling, the customer then has more knowledge about what they're eating and can make an informed decision. The control is in their hands, not the restaurants'.

We cannot force people to make healthier choices but empowering them with proper information is the first step. It's just like with cigarette smoking: We knew cigarettes were bad for our health, but once we started putting warnings on cigarette packages the results were seen.

Toronto top public health officials, specifically Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown, wants the provincial government to force restaurants to list calories and sodium on their menus and menu boards. This would include chains of restaurants that have over 10 locations or bring in over $10 million in gross revenue. If the province will agree, then Toronto will be the first city to do so in Canada, similar to New York City.

Dr. McKeown will give the restaurants until September to do so on a voluntary basis. If they fail to do so, he will develop a Toronto specific bylaw.

Naturally, this all comes from our dire health situation. Obesity among adults and children is at an all-time high. Type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically over the past few decades, as well as heart disease. The common denominator is that there is a higher frequency of eating away from home -- usually this means eating fast food, which is processed, inexpensive and filled with fat, sugar and salt. An addiction forms over time to these nutritionally devoid foods. Not to mention the fact that we are all too to make time for healthy shopping and food preparation.

Dr. McKeown says studies show that at least 70 per cent of customers want menu regulation but the restaurant industry will fight this. Reasons are multi-faceted. They don't want to declare these unhealthy numbers since it will endanger their sales. Menu re designs will also become an expense. But the identical situation was with cigarettes. The restaurants benefit as we become a chronically sick society.

My concern is that Dr. McKeown only wants to list calories and sodium. The other crucial nutrient missing is the total fat, but more importantly the saturated fat, which raises our cholesterol. You need a whole picture to make better decisions. But at least this is a start.

Restaurants shouldn't be concerned. This is an opportunity for them to see what really sells when nutritional information is posted and recreated on other menu items. This would be my definition of euphoria! Finally, an opportunity for the restaurants to help our health situation.

Maybe I'm dreaming, but hopefully not!

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  • Burger King Triple Whopper

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/MenuNutritionInformation_January2013_1.pdf">Burger King triple Whopper</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1020 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 23 grams of saturated fat, 1090 mg of sodium and 13 grams of sugar

  • Cinnabon's Caramel Pecanbon

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.cinnabon.com/media/21554/cinnabon_nutrition.pdf">Cinnabon's caramel Pecanbon</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1080 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 76 grams of sugar, 960 mg of sodium and 50 grams of fat

  • Wendy's Caramel Frosty Shake

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.wendys.ca/food/pdf/ca/nutrition.pdf">Wendy's large caramel frosty shake</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1000 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 510 mg of sodium, 12 grams of saturated fats, 19 grams of fat

  • Boston Pizza's Genovese Pesto Pizza

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's genovese pesto pizza, individual-sized with multi-grain crust</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1100 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 50 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat and 1310 mg of sodium

  • Quiznos Veggie Deluxe Large

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.quiznos.ca/Libraries/PDFs/NutritionalInfo.sflb.ashx">Quiznos large veggie delux</a> with mozzarella, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, red onion, mushroom, black olives, red wine vinaigrette and guacamole <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1060 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 54 grams of fat, 2480 mg of sodium and 37 grams of protein

  • Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/MenuNutritionInformation_January2013_1.pdf">Burger King ultimate breakfast</a> platter with three pancakes and syrup, hash browns, eggs, sausage and baked biscuit <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1070 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 84 grams of fat, 2920 mg of sodium and 134 grams of carbs

  • Wendy's Triple Beef Patty Burger

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.wendys.ca/food/pdf/ca/nutrition.pdf">Wendy's triple patty beef burger </a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1070 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 68 grams of fat, 1910 mg of sodium, 30 grams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar

  • Dairy Queen Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.dairyqueen.com/PageFiles/5144/DQ%20Nutrition%20Allergy%20Treat%20Brochure%20-%20Canada.pdf">Dairy Queen turtle pecan cluster blizzard in medium</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1030 (large has 1510) <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 115 grams of sugar, 26 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of fibre

  • Swiss Chalet Large Cut BBQ Ribs

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.swisschalet.com/ourmenu/nutritionals.pdf"> Swiss Chalet large cut BBQ ribs</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1270 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 32 grams of saturated fat, 1040 mg of sodium and 131 grams of sugar

  • Boston Pizza Fried Wings

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's fried wings (double order)</a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1240 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 74 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs and 3420 mg of sodium

  • Quiznos Classic Italian

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.quiznos.ca/Libraries/PDFs/NutritionalInfo.sflb.ashx">Quiznos classic Italian</a> with cheese and dressing (on white bread) <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1130 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 57 grams of fat, 3210 mg of sodium and 16 grams of sugar

  • Boston Pizza's Crispy Chicken Pecan Salad

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.bostonpizza.com/assets/unmanaged/nutritional-information-en.pdf">Boston Pizza's crispy chicken pecan salad (with dressing) </a> <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1150 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 93 grams of fat, 1550 mg of sodium and 12 grams of sugar

  • Dairy Queen Veggie Quesadilla Basket

    <strong>OFFENDER:</strong> <a href="http://www.dairyqueen.com/PageFiles/5144/DQ%20Nutrition%20Allergy%20Food%20and%20Treat%20Brochure%20-%20Canada.pdf">Dairy Queen veggie quesadilla basket</a> with tortilla and served with salsa, sour cream and onion rings <strong>CALORIES:</strong> 1040 <strong>EVIDENCE:</strong> 77 grams of fat, 34 grams of saturated fat and 2250 mg of sodium


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