That juicy burger or seductive dessert will come with an unexpected add-on in 2010: a calorie count.
Philadelphia City Council passed a bill last week requiring chain restaurants to provide nutritional information on their menu boards.
Chains with more than 15 locations, including national giants like McDonald's and Starbucks, as well as regional chains such as Saladworks, are now required to provide calorie counts, grams of saturated and trans fats, as well as carbohydrate and sodium information for their menu items.
The bill follows similar action taken recently in New York City and San Francisco, but Philadelphia's measure has been described as the strictest instated so far by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Many supporters, such as Lauren Huminski, a dietician and program manager at the Public Health Management Corporation, hope such visibility will help Philadelphians eat healthier.
Even if some people are not sure how to interpret nutritional facts, it may prompt them to seek more information from health professionals, she said.
Huminski added that people may be unaware that perceived healthier options, such as salads, may still have high calorie counts because of the large portion sizes at restaurants.
She hopes restaurants will eventually serve more nutritious foods if customers stop ordering unhealthy menu items.
But some students, like College junior Daniel Singer, are skeptical that providing calorie counts will have any impact on consumers' decisions.
Singer recently discovered that a McDonald's quarter pounder contains 19 grams of fat. And while this is "scary," he doubts it would have much of a health impact, since he rarely eats them.
Wharton senior Alberto Alaria also said the bill might not have a big impact on food choices.
"There are calories [listed] on whatever you buy, but this doesn't prevent people from buying really unhealthy foods," he said.
But the information might be beneficial, Nursing sophomore Alison DeAngelis said, because "people generally don't know that what they're being served in restaurants is so much more than a serving."
Such information, if used, could help prevent conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, DeAngelis added.
Still, "if you're eating out, you want to have a good meal and not worry about what you're eating," she said.
The National Restaurant Association supports nutrition labeling only if it is federally mandated and nationally standardized, stating that city and regional differences make it difficult for national chains to comply.
Such legislation has already been introduced in Congress, including the Labeling Education and Nutrition Act, which would mandate national labeling guidelines.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.