A recent study published in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association is showing that the number of calories shown in many restaurant menu’s, as well as frozen foods found in your local supermarket are often inaccurate.
The study of calorie counts on food labels, done at ten restaurant chains, showed an 18% increase in calories in such places as Ruby Tuesday’s and Wendy’s. An 8 percent increase was noted in frozen supermarket foods such as Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, and Lean Cuisine, among others.
Researchers are not accusing food companies or restaurants of misleading consumers about calorie counts on food labels, stating the variables factored in include portion size and ingredients as well as testing methods.
One example given was that of a person behind the counter putting an extra bit of mayonnaise on a sandwich.
Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and lead researcher, maintains that if you get a few hundred extra calories while dining out, they easily add up. She goes on to say: “There’s a big drumbeat for people putting calories on menus, but that’s only useful if the calories are right.”
New York University professor of nutrition Marion Nestle said she is not surprised by the findings. While not involved in this study, she went on to say: “It would never occur to me that the calories posted on menu boards are anything close to reality,”
Her position is while nutrition information is helpful, people need to accept that if a bagel states it has 303 calories, there might be dozens more calories, or even dozens less in the bagel. In my opinion, that’s simple common sense.
The FDA allows a 20% margin of error.
There is good news if you’re a Domino’s pizza lover. Their large thin-crust cheese pizza has 1/3/ fewer calories than the 180 reported! Unfortunately, P.F. Chang’s large Sichuan-style asparagus, boasting a mere 200 calories, came in at twice that number. Wendy’s Ultimate Chicken Grill, reporting only 320 calories actually had 9% more than that.
Bob Bertini, Wendy’s spokesman stated:
“Since our food is prepared to order by restaurant teams, there can be small variances in the calorie count. For example, one sandwich might have a bit more mustard or ketchup. The next sandwich, the customer might choose to leave off the lettuce and tomato.”
Using a calorimeter, researchers targeted Boston-area restaurants as well as grocers and compared their results with calorie counts available in 2007 and 2008.
If we’re not shedding those holiday pounds fast enough, we now have another
excusereason as to why!
I know our society expects to get exactly what we order, be it a toy, an appliance or food…but do we really believe calorie counts on food labels are going to be 100% accurate?
We need to show some personal responsibility when it comes to what and how much we put in our mouths, especially when dieting.
Now that you know that calorie counts on food labels are inaccurate, will this knowledge change where, what, and how you eat?