Now we have a bit of time under our belts since calorie information popped onto the menu boards of restaurants with 20 or more locations. Has this been helpful? Has anyone changed their eating habits?
Victorino Matus asked this question for the Washington Post. He wondered if more people would order Red Robin’s Garden Burger knowing it has a mere 561 calories instead of the Royal Red Robin burger with 1,191 calories. The answer? ”
According to Jennifer Andrews, director of marketing for Red Robin International in Colorado, the introduction of labels in Montgomery County and elsewhere has had “almost no impact to the menu mix that we’re aware of.” In a phone interview, Andrews said the most popular items are still the cheeseburger (931 calories) and the bacon cheeseburger (1,030 calories). “Our take,” she explained, “is that people know what they’re getting when they come into a Red Robin. .â€‰.â€‰. When they come in, they’re not focused on the nutrition. Even though it’s right there in front of them, they came to get their favorite burger.”
So companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to tell us exactly how many calories are in our foods, but that isn’t changing the way people eat, and obesity is still on the rise. Maybe this is because, once again, it’s not as simple as calories in versus calories out.
The Subway photo shows six sub sandwiches all under 580 calories. A good deal? Let’s take a look at what those sandwiches contain. Of their website, here just the B.M.T. meats (italics are added by me):
Genoa Salami – Pork, beef, salt, water, corn syrup, dextrose, sugar, wine, sodium erythorbate, flavorings, sodium nitrate, spices, garlic, lactic acid starter culture, sodium nitrite. Pepperoni: Pork, beef, salt, dextrose, water, spices, corn syrup, paprika, oleoresin of paprika, flavorings, sodium erythorbate, lactic acid starter culture, sodium nitrite.
Ham – ham (cured with water), salt, dextrose, modified food starch (from corn), sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, smoke flavoring, and sodium nitrite.
TURKEY BREAST – Turkey breast, turkey broth, contains 2% or less of: carrageenan, dextrose, modified food starch (derived from corn), salt, seasoned salt (salt, sodium diacetate, flavoring), sodium lactate, sodium phosphate. * Browned in soybean oil.
HAM – Ham cured with: water, dextrose, salt, potassium lactate, modified food starch (derived from corn), sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, smoke flavoring, sodium nitrite.
ROAST BEEF – Beef eye round or top round, water, dextrose, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, onion powder, garlic powder. Coated with caramel color.
Am I supposed to be okay with those ingredients just because it’s only 450 calories?! This is filled with nitrites which should never be consumed, plus salt, sugar, corn syrup, all sorts of colorings, flavorings, and turkey breast browned in soybean oil! I could just roast a turkey, slice off some pieces, and have a sandwich without all the death additives. And I didn’t even list the bread ingredients, which aren’t any better. Google it – take a look for yourself – this may be “fresh” but it isn’t healthy.
Let’s face it, a calorie number doesn’t tell me much about what I’m eating. I don’t know about the quality of the food, only the calories. In a 2007 working paper for the Washington Legal Foundation that he co-authored with John C. Luik, Basham points out that “based simply on calories, for instance, a glass of milk will show up with more calories than a soft drink, a yogurt with more calories than a bag of chips.” No surprise to me, menu labeling isn’t helping the growing waistlines of Americans.