The big news in Western Washington today is that Seattle's King County Board of Health has mandated that chain restaurants with 10 or more locations must post nutritional labeling on their menus and eliminate trans fats. This is all done under the pretense of improving health and fighting obesity, but is so monumentally stupid that I can't help but wonder if anybody on the Board of Health has a grip on reality.
Banning the trans-fats I get. Trans-fats are evil and should be destroyed.
But being forced to put calorie, fat, sodium and carbohydrate information on your menu in full-size type? Did anybody bother to think this through? Ordering at a fast-food restaurant can already be a confusing, time consuming task to many people... what happens when the menu board has to be twice as big to accommodate all this extra shit? Does anybody really need to be told that a veggie salad with lite dressing is a more healthful meal than a triple hamburger loaded with cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise? Is this really going to come as a huge revelation once the menus have changed? When Taco bell alters their menus, are people going to die of shock that deep-fried dishes covered in sour cream and cheese have fat in them? Really? People can claim ignorance, but is that an excuse to punish the restaurants?
I mean, seriously, look around. Food manufacturers have already spent billions of dollars updating their product packaging with Nutrition Facts (twice!), yet medical cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease show no sign of slowing down. If people won't take the time to study nutrition intake while they are eating at home, why should anybody expect that they'll bother to take the time while at the McDonalds drive-up? This is yet another case of trying to crack an egg with a sledgehammer, burdening companies with major expenses to initiate changes that will have little (if any) effect.
Do I think restaurants should be required to provide nutritional information to their customers?
I think it is perfectly reasonable that consumers be informed as to what they are eating. As a vegetarian, this is something I can appreciate. Not only should customers have access to nutritional information at a restaurant, but a complete list of ingredients as well.
But let's be realistic here.
There's no reason that restaurants can't hand over a brochure or pamphlet with this information for those who request it. Why force everybody to change their menus and reader boards? This is not only impractical, but a very dangerous precedent as well. If people don't care enough to take an interest in their own health and can't be bothered to ASK for nutritional information of their own free will when they need it, then too damn bad. I am tired of government deciding I am too f#@%ing stupid to figure out for myself what constitutes a proper diet. So long as the information is made available upon request, demanding a restaurant to go through all this extra expense is grossly unfair.
I say that if restaurants are required to deface their menus with this shit, that EVERY F#@%ING TIME politicians and local government officials appear in media... from newspapers and television appearances to personal correspondence and an election ballot... that their salary should be listed after their name. Knowing how much money these power-abusive idiots make to come up with this stupid crap is information that could really make a difference.
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What if I wanted some delicious, yet evil-trans-fats laden french fries from McDonald’s? Couldn’t I just drive to another county to get them? Stupid Board of Health! This issue is much like the one that NYCWD talks about on CerealWednesday.com
Last night Steven and I ate at Chili’s and he was really upset to find the nutrition information on a portion of their menu. When we eat out, it is because we our giving ourselves a treat! We don’t want to know the calorie count!!!
Ruby Tuesday has changed their menu what seems like 4 or 5 times in the last four years. First it had its normal menu, then an all-healthy one with calories, then the calories were taken off, then put back on, but in a smaller section…
If people can’t figure out what is and isn’t healthy on their own… I am worried!
But look at all the signage you could potentially have to redesign! This could make you a billionaire!
Most of this information is already available somewhere. McDonald’s puts it on the backs of their tray liners (in Hilliard, at least).
Taco Bell, has a poster on the wall, as do some other places.
And, of course, you’ve got Calorie King on the Internet.
And Jared Fogel on TV.
I’m fine with nutrition information being available in a restaurant, but I think having it on the menus is not the best idea. And, of course, having it on the menu board behind the counter is a worse idea (Especially if someone is going to be standing in front of me in line and trying to decide what to order based on carb content. Most especially, if they have a coupon).
Most people, I think, won’t read it. And those that are likely to already have a pretty good idea about how good or bad something might be for them.
And the costs of all these menu changeovers are passed along to… the customer.
As someone who is constantly battling that bulge, I have to tell you that I actually agree with you 100%. Health advocates have been clamoring up and down for this sort of thing (for both fast food and sit-down restaurants) for such a long time and every time there is a speech about how this information would help to curb obesity, I rolled my eyes. I agree with you that YES…we need every restaurant to provide us with NI in their restaurants, on line, in print to take home…but it should not be part of the regular menu or especially on a fast food ordering board, seriously. Seeing that info is not going to deter the person who made up their minds to go get a double double deluxe grease patty with cheese anyway….sheesh.
Sorry to ramble here in your blogosphere but it just seems that we are willing to make others go to great strides to take responsibility for the things that WE should be culpable for ourselves…ie, just ASKING for a freaking print NI brochure.
Around here, fast food restaurants have been required to provide nutritional info…in the form of a pamphlet for a long time. .Only none of the restaraunts actually have them. Dunkin Donuts has theirs plastered to the side of a coffee machine which if you want to read it means you hold up the line
I found that out when my gallbladder was all pissed off.
I had a bootleg program for my PDA that had the Weight Watchers points for all the fast food menu items at each chain. The calories in some of the presumably healthy stuff is astounding. It wouldn’t hurt to make that info a little more prominent.
Still, anyone who cares can find out easy enough.
I agree with everything you said in your post, Dave2.
Ban trans fats — they are dangerous to health. The nutrition facts on packaged foods is fine and often helpful. But to have every “mom & pop” drive in and every restaurant have to compile and list every last detail on their menus is stupid, costly and repugnant. I can only wonder how our favorite sushi restaurant is going to cope with these cumbersome mandates and costly regulations. Let’s see now, a tuna roll has so much sodium, add a half teaspoon of soy sauce and ooops, “waitress, I’d like to change my order.”
This nanny gov’t stuff is TOO MUCH.
Next thing you know, blogs will require something indicating a content rating or summarization of what you’ll get from it or some such.
Ok I just made up one and will do a blog entry about it 🙂
Geeky Tai-Tai… Using trans-fats is almost like adding poison to a recipe, and should likewise be illegal. The research in this area is nasty-scary, and I can’t imagine anybody wanting to eat them who doesn’t have a death-wish! 🙂 Besides, there are less-damaging alternative fats that taste just as good!
Kilax… The problem is that people obviously CAN’T figure it out for themselves, because we just keep getting more and more unhealthy. This worries me too, because healthcare is already screwed up without people clogging up the system because of unhealthy eating habits.
RW… That’s why I am so upset… designing a menu with all this shit on it is obstructive and lacks hierarchy that’s needed for clear communication! Nutritional information should be a separate piece, available upon request, so menus can focus on THE MENU! I’d be happy to design the supplemental pamphlet.
Delmer… Exactly. That’s exactly right. I already get pissed off having to wait for somebody to decipher the menu board at Taco Bell without throwing even more confusion into the mix. IT’S ALL BAD FOR YOU, YOU MORON! JUST ORDER YOUR CRAP AND GET OUT OF THE WAY!! 🙂
Roberta… Very true. The cost for nutritional analysis is pricey enough… to inflict additional financial burden for highly questionable results is astoundingly stupid. And don’t tell me it won’t be abused. Places like Subway will just list all their sandwiches with NO mayo and NO cheese, when they know damn well that everybody will order mayo and cheese as extras! Who is going to monitor and administrate stuff like that?
Hilly… And that’s what it all comes down to… personal responsibility. I couldn’t have said it better myself. 🙂
Miss Ann… Then those restaurants should be fined for breaking the law. And if the law states that nutritional information must be made freely available in a pamphlet, then chains like Dunkin Donuts would no longer be able to put their nutritional info in an inconvenient place or they’d be fined too!
Yellojkt… Easily accessible and available? Yes. Absolutely. More prominent? Why? It hasn’t worked when it’s slapped on every food package in existence! It never fails that the people most in need of making themselves aware of their health will be the people most likely to ignore it no matter what you do. Why should the rest of us suffer because they’re stupid?
Bogup… The law currently only requires such action by restaurant chains with 10 or more locations nation-wide. So mom & pop restaurants don’t have to worry… yet. There’s no telling what these power-abusing control freaks will come up with tomorrow, which is why this stuff should be stopped NOW.
Wayne… Because heaven only knows people can’t ever seem to figure out for themselves what’s entertaining or not. Television ratings back that up.
God, the stupidity never ends! No wonder people are only getting dumber. Why think when someone else can do it for you?
It also seems almost discriminatory against larger restaurants. Why 10 or more? Why not 2 or more?
Holy crap, I never thought of that… listing the stuff without the stuff that everyone will just order anyway.
Which of course, also keeps the prices looking lower… because there will be a charge for adding cheese. Hopefully not mayo, but I suspect that day will come. And a sandwich without mayo is like… a day without… mayo.