Scan for Solutions: Nutrition Facts for Chain Restaurant Food

June 23rd, 2016 No Comments

The pendulum has swung from consumers eating at home most of the time to eating out of the home more. I recently read that Americans are spending more on restaurants than groceries, big sigh. Back in the day eating out was considered an occasional treat. Fast forward to today and it has become a regular part of people’s eating routine. I was taking a stroll before dinner recently and heard one young girl call to her neighbour to “come outside and play’. She was met with the response, “No I need to go inside, we’re ordering dinner!” OUCH. Welcome to 2016 I guess. Time for a moment of silence…

Anyone who follows T & T will recall my stand on this issue. Some may even call me a broken record (or worse)…. All I want is for consumers to have access to the same food offering nutrition info that packaged foods provide with the nutrition facts panel. Knowledge is power and people do better when they know better. Here are a few of my posts:

I can relate though. Although I value eating nourishing home-prepared food regularly, I’ll confess that I travel a lot and consume my fair share of restaurant meals. Because of the frequency of eating out, it isn’t necessarily an indulgent treat. I aim to eat as healthfully as I can, trading off and making better choices. I’m lucky that I have a degree in nutrition and am a registered dietitian. Consumers don’t have this luxury. It is helpful that people who actively want to know what’s in their food have been used to accessing the nutrition facts panel when grocery shopping for well over a decade now.

Half of Canadians over the age of 20 live with a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease and four out of five are at risk, with diet and lifestyle being major factors. Now that people are eating out more now than ever it’s time to reconsider making this info – and not only calories – available for consumers.

We also live in an era with technological advances up the wazoo. I can now pay for a quart of milk with my Apple Watch for goodness sake. So when I hear the chain restaurant industry drag their feet and exclaim how they would only confuse consumers by providing the nutritional profile of their offerings I say “bupkis”! Of course you can’t display a nutrition facts panel on a jammed menu board, but with human ingenuity there are certainly viable solutions.

I was in a small fishing town in Italy in May and enjoyed dinner at a tiny restaurant. On each table a scan icon similar to this image was burned in the wood that accessed their website. Upon scanning it, I had an AHA moment: Perhaps scan technology can be available for people to view chain restaurant food offerings before they get in line to order!

Not only are people spending more of their money on eating out, they have health conditions which can be helped by better nutrition. When this info – especially the astronomically negative content is central in the public eye, the offerings will be reformulated. Yes another reason to mandate this info be available.

Come on folks, it’s 2016 – certainly there are solutions for making nutrient profiles available and accessible to consumers. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

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