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Do you like to have nutrition info AVAILABLE

Not necessarily showing, or on the label or menu - but available somewhere if you would like to know.

I know it's not always feasible for a small rotational menu, but for something like a small cookie business/bakery/sandwich shop it would be easy enough to provide estimates.

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  1. Absolutely.

    I can understand how some people don't want the information staring them directly in the face but I prefer it to be available at least. It's really not hard to calculate and provide (especially for static and small menus) and I wish more places would do so.

    1. Yes, what i can't understand is chains(either quick serve or sit down) not having nutritional infos available on their website, or readily available in store.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          why though? if it's only available you don't have to see it.

          1. re: Rodzilla

            Nutritional information has made this a nation of carb-fat-calorie counting lemmings.

            We need to learn to eat and understand the sensation of fullness (as well as hunger). Nutritional labels, even when it's only available on an "available basis", neuters that principle.

            Instead of saying, "I am going to eat a sandwich because I am hungry" people now have the notion of "I am going to eat a 500 calorie snack before I have my 1000 calorie dinner".

            Not a healthy way of thinking, nor living.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              mirage or illusion come to mind

              1. re: ipsedixit


                Ingredients should be available for those with allergies/sensitivities.

                Beyond that, no.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Well ipsedixit, I want to see it for a whole different reason. My feeling about nutrition is that if I am going to eat say... at Chipotle's for dinner. And I know it's grass fed chicken and all of the other "good things they are trying to sell", that I am eating 995 calories. So to me, I will either not eat there, or cut it in half. In my case, "out of sight, out of mind", comes in to play. If I don't know the enormous amount of fat and calories, then I chose to ignore it. I think most restaurants, should at least have it on their website. :)


                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Lemmings? How about diabetics who must count carbs in order to survive? When you cook food yourself you know what's in it, when you eat out, your options widen depending upon how different dishes are prepared.

                    There's nothing wrong with information, you don't have to look at it if you don't feel the need.

                    1. re: mcf

                      but those with legitimate dietary concerns are by far the minority...and have the knowledge and experience (in most cases...depending on how long they've been managing the condition) to make an educated guess, because they're used to doing it all the time.

                      It's a shame that they get trampled by the lemmings...but the lemmings have pretty much overrun most things.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Anyone's interest in their own nutrition is "legitimate" IMO. And those with metabolic syndrome are projected to be well over 50% of us very soon, using diagnostic standards that fail to diagnose almost all diabetics until they've been many years advanced into the disease, so we are not "by far the minority."

                        I note the lack of respect for others that word "legitimate" has come to represent, as a means to dismiss the well founded concerns of others.

                        Some of us think it's more beneficial to be armed with information, not just personal bias against the power of actual factual information.

                        The use of the name of a rodent that some folks have a misunderstanding about is kind of illustrative, though.

                        1. re: mcf

                          "Anyone's interest in their own nutrition is "legitimate" IMO"

                          *claps* You said what I was thinking.

                          I really can't get my head around people who actually seem strongly opposed to nutritional information being -available-. The only thing being discussed is the availability of such information. No one is forcing anyone to look at it, or guilting them for a particular food choice, or anything else about those who don't care about it's availability. However for those who do desire it, it is important and people shouldn't have to justify -why- they need/want it. Since when has it been a bad thing for the consumer to be better informed?

                          1. re: Tovflu

                            Anyone who refers to fellow discussants as "lemmings" may not have an interest in the subject so much as the opportunity to use pejoratives.

                          2. re: mcf

                            "Legitimate" as in those who have a sensitivity or allergy that will land them in the E/R with an epinephrine drip, rather than those who are just following the diet of the day, can't be arsed to figure out what things have gluten and which ones don't, so they just SAY they're allergic so someone else has to figure it out for them.

                            "Legitimate" as in those who have actual physical issues, diagnosed by an actual licensed physician with an actual degree from a real bricks-and-mortar university -- not those who blindly follow whatever today's diet guru says they should do without benefit of actual research or education.

                            But actual percentages? Fugeddabout it. Why? Because all of the "illegitimate" health lemmings (yes, we know the story about the Disney film...but it's now a commonly-used and widely-comprehended figure of speech) who won't take the time to figure this stuff out for themselves will be the first ones to call a lawyer if it varies by an infinitesimal amount...thus putting the restaurant out of business (or in serious trouble).

                          3. re: sunshine842

                            Those with legitimate dietary restrictions who need to count carbs don't know the precise ingredients that have gone into the finished product -- e.g., the carb content of a slice of bread or salad dressing can be vastly different depending upon whether and the amount of honey, molasses, sugar, or other carb-containing sweetener are used. While it may be possible to infer the carb-content from how sweet such products taste, it's nice to have that information available at the time that the order is placed.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          "We need to learn to eat and understand the sensation of fullness (as well as hunger). "

                          I think we ought to stop thinking we're supposed to eat til we feel full, and stop when we're no longer hungry.

                          1. re: mcf

                            I think we ought to stop thinking we're supposed to eat til we feel full, and stop when we're no longer hungry.

                            Cannot agree with that.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Seriously, "cannot?" You think it's better to stuff oneself than to eat enough and stop?

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Seriously, "cannot?" You think it's better to stuff oneself than to eat enough and stop?

                                  No, but that's not what you said, or my basic ESL skills have failed me again.

                                  I think we should eat until we are "full" (which is part and parcel why I started this thread), and then stop eating when are no longer hungry.

                                  I do NOT think we should eat based on a set number of calories per day, divided by X number of meals, and then eat because we are *supposed* to eat or *required* to eat based on some pre-set notion of dietary dictates.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I didn't mention counting calories or any other dictates, only eating til satiety, not fullness as a sensation.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      You and I, then, have different definitions of fullness, satiety and sensation.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  somebody is misunderstanding somebody on this fork, but I'm not sure who!

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I think the fork is the "hunger" thread ,not a tine on this one.

                                    1. re: lcool

                                      a side conversation that diverges from the main emphasis of the original post is called a fork.

                                3. re: mcf

                                  I think that for most people, "eating until we feel full" means exactly the same thing as "eating until we are no longer hungry". In other words, "full" is just the opposite of "hungry". Or maybe they overlap a little bit: "I'm starting to feel full, but I'm still a little hungry." It seems like for you, there is a a zone between "hungry" and "full" that people should learn to sense.

                                  Anyway, beyond the words, I think I get your point, which is that by the time your body registers the food and you feel full, you have probably eaten a little more than necessary. So maybe it's a good idea to train yourself to stop before that point. But to get back on topic, I don't think looking at estimates of nutritional content will help achieve this goal, since only you can sense how "filling" the food is for you, as you're eating it.

                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                    "I think I get your point, which is that by the time your body registers the food and you feel full, you have probably eaten a little more than necessary."

                                    Yes, there is a delay in the signal of fullness, and in some folks, the signal is absent for hormonal reasons. Estimates of nutritional content are a whole other issue, and matter in terms of what one wants to be sated or filled by, whichever is one's goal.

                          2. Not for bakeries and especially not cookie or other sweet treat companies. I know it is something that is bad for me in excess.

                            I'd much prefer to see an ingredients list much like you get on packaging, with most common ingredient first.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Musie

                              as above, what would be the problem if you did not have to look?

                              consider something like a homemade oreo equivalent. You have 2 for ~150 calories...that would "fit" into most healthy eating and some people like to keep closer watch.

                              1. re: Rodzilla

                                I shall rephrase, if they had the information available, I would never look. So on a personal level I wouldn't need access.

                            2. The current system is good enough for me. Standardized, mass-distributed prepared foods are already covered and I'm glad they are. Chains like McDonald's are standardized and mass-marketed enough that it's practical to require this information from them, and there's a movement to do so. But for every family-owned luncheonette or bakery to have this loaded on them would put some out of business and cause others to raise prices to cover the added overhead, without making the slightest real difference to their customers' health. For me this would be bureaucracy for its own sake. (And no, I don't own or work in any such businesses myself.)

                              26 Replies
                              1. re: John Francis

                                I don't want to get off topic, but this is why I said estimates (avoid the cost of 3rd party analysis etc.)

                                BUT cost/feasibility aside - would you like it to be available? Not displayed. Available.

                                1. re: Rodzilla

                                  Sure, information is always better than the lack of information, assuming it is verifiable/reliable. If it's just estimates that they made up themselves, avoiding 3rd party involvement, then there's no point. Too much room for error/dishonesty/incompetence and no accountability.

                                  I heard that the iPhone 5 will have a tricorder function that gives a full nutritional analysis of anything you point the camera at.

                                  1. re: Rodzilla

                                    DeppityDawg has given one of my reasons why estimates don't cut it. Another reason: even if the estimate is made in good faith, it amounts to no more than an educated guess and not actual information. Also, if the estimate is off, and it's bound to be, that could open the business to legal action from any customer with a grievance.

                                    DeppityDawg: Yeah, and also a transporter function that when you press a button, moves you to the head of the line at Galatoire's. :-)

                                    The question shouldn't be whether I'd like this information to be available, but whether I'd actually use it if it were. The answer is no. I wouldn't use it to pick one restaurant over another, or in a restaurant, to choose one dish over another. I wouldn't use it to decide whether to buy the hummus in Sahadi's in Brooklyn Heights or in Trader Joe's a block away, or whether to buy hummus at all. If there's something I want to know about the food, I can ask the waiter or the person behind the counter. But frankly, it's never occurred to me to ask.

                                  2. re: John Francis

                                    Am I missing something? Hasn't McDonald's had this for many years already?

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      You're right; McDonald's boasts that they've provided this information for 30 years. But how many other fast food and restaurant chains have done likewise?

                                      1. re: John Francis

                                        Just about every major national fast food chain has had nutritional info for at least 10 years now, if not more.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Those of us who never, ever step foot in fast food places have as great or greater need to have as much meal composition info as possible. Folks who frequent fast food places probably care the least about food/diet quality by nature, IMO.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            Not even a little bit...there are an awful lot of people who have occupations that leave them with very little time or money or choice at lunch...so they just try to make the best of it.

                                            However...it doesn't take a printed placemat to know that a salad with grilled chicken is probably much healthier option than a Big Mac.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I don't believe that people who eat fast food have no choice.

                                              And I think the way that folks who don't know which is better for them learn it is by seeing it in print.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                AH.....but do they know that the packet of salad dressing they are about to use 2 of is going to make the salad potentially worse for them than the burger? It's the insidious things that make labling necessary.

                                              2. re: mcf

                                                Wrong-o. Believe it or not, because of large chains have a tremendous financial incentive to control margins by controlling the portioning of ingredients, they have a reasonable bead on approximate macronutrient info averages, and people who need that information when dining out can manage their diets more easily with that information. I have family and friends who have lost and maintained considerable amounts of weight by focusing on those places when they have to dine out. If you don't know this world, you'd have no reason to imagine this goes on, but believe you me, it most assuredly does.

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  Wrong-o about what, choice? You think there are people who have no choice but to eat in fast food places?

                                                  Or that the *only* way they have of evaluating and controlling their meal content is crap food focus?

                                                  I've been in fast food places in the past, and I dine out a lot and maintain my health by knowing what makes a healthy meal and what doesn't.

                                                  Everyone has that choice.

                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    No, wrong-o about your assumption that there are not folks at fast food places who do not care about their health or nutrition; I was merely pointing out the opposite dynamic - people who very much do care who eat selectively at fast food joints precisely because of the information availability. Fast food patrons may all look the same to you, but there is more variety in that regard than you appear to realize.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      "No, wrong-o about your assumption that there are not folks at fast food places who do not care about their health or nutrition"

                                                      To me "eating selectively" and doing it in a fast food place is oxymoronic. It may be an improvement over an individual's prior habits without actually being a choice made by people who care enough about health and nutrition to understand fully what those foods represent on balance, compared to quality diets.

                                                      Please don't put words in my mouth; I never said all such patrons look alike, it never came up in my part of the discussion.

                                                2. re: mcf

                                                  No, they may just have work situations where some meals must be eaten on-the-go and prepare-at-home options aren't readily available or feasible.

                                                  I work conventions and fairs and sometimes am on the road for a week straight - in areas where chain restaurants and strip malls dominate, and I can't afford a hotel room with a kitchenette. When I *am* at home, I cook 90% of the time for myself so I can control what I'm eating, with maybe 1 or 2 meals out a week as a treat (where I am NOT interested in counting calories or fat, I'm there for the experience). But when I'm on the road, I have to make-do with what's available. And at times like that, I really appreciate when I can go grab a breakfast, lunch or dinner at a place that has nutrition info available so I can balance my choices.

                                                  1. re: sockii

                                                    If you're near strip malls or chain restaurants, you have more options than fast food places, though, in my experience. Delis, even pizzerias, Greek gyro places, for quick examples, have a range of grab and go choices. In a pinch, I'll run into a bagel store, and just order some chopped salad and a small container of fish salad, frex.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      You sound like a person who's never had to stay a week in Montgomery, Alabama.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Okay, ya got me there. :-) I hope that never changes, too. I don't love heat and humidity.

                                                    2. re: sockii

                                                      Well said. I'm in public safety and speed dominates many of my choices. If nutritional info is there, I'll definitely use it. Some meals are deceptively high calorie (or fat or carb, etc). If others don't want to read over the info, that's fine. But I'd love to have this available for, well, basically everything.

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Any health claims made by restaurants, be it chain or independent, are required to have a nutritional menu avail to customers by request. The FDA lists this requirement in their restaurant owner guidelines. That doesn't mean the info has to be printed on every menu but it has to be avail if requested.

                                                    So how many restaurants adhere to this requirement?

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      Most menus do not make any nutrient content claims ("fat-free", "low sodium", etc.) or health claims ("good for your heart!"), so this requirement does not apply. In my experience, these claims are more typical of chain restaurants, which usually do make the nutrient info available. And there is no specific requirement for the info to be available in printed form. As long as someone in the restaurant is able to provide the relevant nutritional details upon request, they are in compliance.

                                                      I'm sure there are restaurants that make claims that cannot be backed up, but I have no idea how many. Do you have reason to believe this is a significant problem?

                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                        DD, Depends on who I'm talking to ( re: a problem). Given the popularity of health claims of the last few years and public education efforts/$$ to highlight low fat, healthy, gluten-free, sugar-free, heart healthy on pizza, sub and burger menus from independent owners, I'd say the grey areas are significant enough.

                                                  3. re: John Francis

                                                    It's actually pretty common as many states require it for business with a certain number of locations. Once a chain puts in the work to make information available in California, they usually go ahead and make it available everywhere. Under the Affordable Care Act, restaurants with 20+ locations in the US will be required to make nutrition information available.

                                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                                      Not only available, but the number of calories has to be posted clearly right next to the item name on menus or right next to the tray of food on the salad bar/buffet line. Vending machines, too.


                                                      The problem is, this act was signed into law in March 2010, with supposedly immediate effect, but in reality, no date has been set for national compliance. McDonald's is grabbing headlines this week for announcing that they'll be updating their menu boards nationwide. Which is to their credit, I suppose, but I don't think they necessarily get brownie points just for agreeing to comply with federal law…


                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                        Well, they already been doing it for several years in in New York State, so it's not difficult to roll out. I find it very helpful when I am in NY to have this information; makes a big difference even when I already know some of the information from entering things into an electronic food diary. At a place like Panera, for example, it can be illuminating (and prompted me to skip the listed hot items in favor of a cold sandwich that Panera will happily put in the hot press for you and it's actually better than any of their listed hot sandwiches), information invites you to make these connections).

                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                          Yes, they have an advantage over small chains in that they already have the nutritional information ready to distribute, but then they have to produce and install new menu boards (in-store and drive-thru) in 14,000 locations… And I guess they're taking a chance, because when the official guidelines are finally released (2013?), they may have to update everything again to be compliant.

                                                          I'm sure they'll manage, somehow.

                                              3. Sure. If I'm wavering between a couple options, I'd like to pick the healthier option and it's not always clear which one that is.

                                                1. As a consumer, you say it would be easy enough to provide estimates, from the small business owners point of view, it would be a PIA. They don't have cooks, dieticians and nutritionists on staff to compile this info and most importantly, keep it up to date.

                                                  19 Replies
                                                  1. re: NE_Elaine

                                                    Once more, cost another discussion. But no, not necessarily. For a small rotational menu of composed dishes - yes.

                                                    For a small cookie/bakery operation with limited items? Not in the least. There are several recipe calculators online which will give fairly accurate information. No, these wouldn't suffice for wholesale distribution. Yes, cost for independent analysis would be an additional expense to take on.

                                                    But the question is: Would you like it to be available. NOT what it would take for that to be possible.

                                                    1. re: Rodzilla

                                                      << I know it's not always feasible for a small rotational menu, but for something like a small cookie business/bakery/sandwich shop it would be easy enough to provide estimates >>

                                                      I guess I was addressing the erroneous assumption supposedly supporting your argurment rather than the actual question posed in the post.

                                                      So, to answer your question...NO, I would not like it available and have very rarely availed myself of the listings that are required by law.

                                                    2. re: NE_Elaine

                                                      I get that some small business owners themselves might not have the knowledge or staff that are able to compile the information, but for the sake of argument, consider how much some people desire this information to be out there. I'm sure if a business/individual wanted to get the information together they could put out a request (within the community, online, whatever) explaining that they'd like assistance with the task so that those customers with special dietary/health concerns would be able to make better informed decisions when dining with them.

                                                      I'm sure they could get someone to volunteer their time in doing so for little or even possibly no money. I certainly wouldn't mind doing so (for free) if I saw such a request. It certainly wouldn't be done by tomorrow, but it would not be hard. It might even end up being good PR for a business for them being proactive in the health of their community/patrons.

                                                      1. re: Tovflu

                                                        Nobody with a serious dietary restriction would trust information obtained in this manner, and you'd have to be crazy to volunteer to get mixed up in something so fraught with liability issues, not to mention real danger for some unlucky, naive customers. For more general info like "how many calories in this cupcake?" the stakes are lower, but that just means that the business has that much less incentive to make sure the information is accurate.

                                                        The only reason nutritional info on commercial packaging is worth anything is precisely because it is not produced/provided on a voluntary basis, but is the result of a very costly regulatory system. Costly for the company and costly for the government. The OP keeps saying "forget the cost", but without the cost, the information is worthless.

                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                          You include both a written and verbal (when the information is supplied) disclaimer that while the information is provided to help the diner make a more informed decision the business/person is not a health professional and when in doubt the consumer should err on the side of caution for their particular concern/consult their health care provider.

                                                          As you said, generally people with 'serious dietary restrictions' are not going to be dining out or trusting such information in the first place. If it's that critical of an issue for them its simply not worth the risk. I am primarily viewing this as customers seeking to see general macronutient and ingredient information. I am curious what ingredient or ailment you have in mind when mentioning the 'real danger.' There is danger to any unlucky or naive customer when eating food prepared by others.

                                                          1. re: Tovflu

                                                            A friend says he has a garlic allergy. He often dines out, and deals with his problem by asking the server whether a particular dish he's considering is made with garlic. The server finds out from the kitchen and tells my friend. It works. Another friend is a vegetarian, so when she dines out with us, she chooses from the vegetable options and asks the server if animal products (like bacon fat) are used to prepare them. The servers seem happy enough to find out for her. That works too. Yet another friend has a gluten allergy; when she buys baked goods, she asks at the store if they have any that are non-gluten, and makes her choices from these. It works just fine.

                                                            1. re: John Francis

                                                              I have extremely high blood pressure and have been advised by my doctor to severely limit my salt intake. When I ask at the restaurant how much salt has been used to prepare this, I never get valid information. Your system works for some things, it doesn't work for others.

                                                              I'd love to see nutritional information made available.

                                                              I'd love to see the recipes on Chow come with that nutritional information.

                                                              1. re: 512window

                                                                If you have a recipe,measured ingredients.You also have the nutritional information.

                                                                One of several books detailing ingredients and products is
                                                                The Nutribase Complete book of FOOD COUNTS

                                                                carbs,fat,calories,protein,sodium,cholesterol and fiber are covered for
                                                                brand name and generic food products,fast food,chain restaurants,specialty foods and ....BASE INGREDIENTS,there are three pages devoted to just flour,7 listings for garlic powder...all different.
                                                                All of the information is on the ingredient you source to prepare the recipe.Salt when cooking from scratch isn't mysterious or sneaky.The same can't be said about sodium and prepared foods.

                                                                1. re: lcool

                                                                  There are even easier ways to calculate nutritional information, such as using recipe software like Living Cookbook. I do, so that when I input a recipe, I automatically get an official-looking nutritional values table like the ones on packaged products. Problem is, different authors and different recipes have different ideas of how many servings each will make, so I get wildly different and improbable weights and therefore nutritional values.

                                                                  So the main problem with such software is giving the portion size in ounces. Without that, you can't get meaningful information. And even if you determine the precise portion size and weight for every item on the menu, that won't give the correct answer if cooks season the food to taste or portions servings by look rather than weighing them.. In that case the amount of sodium etc. in the same dish will vary from one cook to the next and possibly, with the same cook, from one day to the next..

                                                                  The way around this is not to offer precise nutritional information but just an estimate or average. But that doesn't cut it, as other messages in this thread have shown.

                                                                  1. re: John Francis

                                                                    It's easy to agree with you.When such a huge percentage,maybe nearly all US home cooks don't use a scale.Just as many are unaware that many "volume" measuring devices aren't accurate,include the human variable when using them it just gets worse.Add that there isn't 100% agreement among the published regarding the weight of "1cup flour",nearly a 20% difference reading ATK and King Arthur published the same year.
                                                                    Your comment about savory food and variable seasoning is so very true.Many things we cook,eat are variable enough to defy exact measures.
                                                                    steaks,tomatoes,corn and the list goes on..........

                                                                  2. re: lcool

                                                                    Yes, I can do it when I'm cooking at home. The OP was asking about restaurants and stores selling prepared food making available nutritional information. I would like to see that information made available.

                                                                    And, if it's *so easy* to do, why can't Chow put out the nutritional content of the recipes that they are featuring? They have more ready access to the databases of ingredient nutritional content than the average consumer does. My local newspaper manages to put out nutritional content for the recipes that they print, why can't Chow?

                                                                    1. re: 512window

                                                                      Everyone has access to the USDA nutrition data base; you can use it online or download it to your desk top, which is what I did. CH's access is not better than yours or mine.

                                                                      1. re: 512window

                                                                        I am not for or against the "nutritional" information.So say for the sake of parity I support your position.
                                                                        I ask,who measured that cup of chopped onions,grated cheese (how fine?) ,parsley,10x sugar,AP flour,chopped nuts,chopped vs diced tomatoes or sliced mushrooms?Not a very accurate way to go about things,inherently flawed.All of the tests I have watched or read were variable,plus or minus 10%,or more.However as I read the posts here a variable of + or - 20% is not OK.
                                                                        Here in DC some small batch specialty bakers tried,honestly,no smoke and mirrors.It backfired.One network sent things to independent labs.Reports back found that 100% were off more than 10% in calories,fat,salt,sugar,carbs etc.
                                                                        Fine example of NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.

                                                                        Now I would ask,not using a scale just how far off is the recipe nutritional information in your local paper when YOU make it?Does it matter?
                                                                        Keeping in mind ATK is a 5 1/4 oz cup,using a national brand (Pillsbury or Gold Medal) and King Arthur is a 4 oz cup of flour...theirs.A more than 25% difference.What does your cup weigh?What did the testing,published cup weigh?DOES IT MATTER?

                                                                        With a scale,every one using the same standard(USDA ),maybe OK,factory food every where.

                                                                        So the reality is I don't care about the nutritional information on menus and products.

                                                                        1. re: lcool

                                                                          The large chains have strong incentives to manage things as much by weight as possible. While measures will be averages, the chains are likely to come closer to approximating them in practice. I do a lot of my own home cooking by weights rather than volumes where possibles, and that is the norm in many places.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            I am nearly 100% a scale user.
                                                                            Chains,factory food and large scale bakers,caterers and huge kitchens are driven to get it right for the bottom line.
                                                                            Some of these posts,not so much the OP seem to be looking for ?more.Like to include the corner cafe,taco truck,by the pound buffet and salad bar and small restaurant operations.

                                                                          2. re: lcool

                                                                            If ±20% is not OK for some people, then they need to ignore all declared nutritional information, whether provided voluntarily or enforced by regulation, and pay for their own lab tests. The FDA's standards for compliance in food labeling allows a deviation of 20% from declared values for naturally-occurring nutrients. More precisely, the food is allowed to have up to 20% less of the "good" nutrients and up to 20% more of the "bad" nutrients, compared to the claims on the product label. Since the number of calories may be calculated on the basis of these declared values, there could be an "error" of 20% in either direction (plus rounding to the nearest 5 or 10 calorie increment). [source: 21 CFR §101.9(g)]

                                                                            Call me cynical, but I assume that industrial manufacturers take full advantage of this leeway and deliberately put inflated/deflated values on their labels to make their foods appear healthier and more nutritious, knowing that if they get inspected, they will still be technically compliant.

                                                                            It was probably unfair of the DC news people to scream "gotcha" over 10% (if that is what happened), since that is an unreasonably strict standard given normal variations in the nutrient content of natural ingredients. On the other hand, if the posted calorie/fat/carb counts were _consistently_ lower than the actual measured values, that would be evidence of dishonesty and intent to mislead/deceive customers, and it would be worth bringing to the attention of the public.

                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                              Someone called the station citing the variable percentages allowed.It was dropped fast.A pursuit implying deceit never happened.

                                                                              However I doubt the majority chiming in here are aware of the allowed variable.

                                                                              1. re: lcool

                                                                                I am aware of the variables, but have found that having a standard with variables does invite greater discipline over the longer term, and is helpful over the longer term.

                                                                                I won't even get into how nutritional labels in food packages (like, say, a package of dried beans) involve two different sets of calculations that need not square. Or the usefuleness of Bowe's & Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used since the 1930s.... EVen with all the variables, it's still better than nothing. Way better. Not even an open question in my book.

                                                            2. re: NE_Elaine

                                                              There are websites and software that are either free or extremely inexpensive so cost is not an issue, necessarily. Although, I'm not sure what the liability ramifications are in using these sorts of programs vs. a nutrionist/food scientist to do a formal calculation. I've created my own recipes (or used a recipe from Epicurious, for example) and entered it into one of these online calculators for a breakdown - http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe....

                                                              As a Type 1 diabetic I rely HEAVILY on nutritional information. If it's not available I have to guess (or not eat the food w/o the info). I say this, not in a "woe is me" way, but in a "information is a good thing" way.

                                                              I am sympathetic to the small business baker who doesn't have the time or knowledge to provide nutritional information. However, large chain restaurants who can't at least put the info on their website really chap my a$$. I visited a Zoe's Kitchen a year or so ago and I had a horrible high blood sugar after eating one of their meals. I visited their website and there was no nutritional informational available. This was particularly annoying given that Zoe's touts itself as a healthy and nutritional alternative to "fast food". They even claim in their company description that they employed nutritionists to help them creat a menu that was healthy and nutritional.

                                                            3. Absolutely. The choice of whether to make use of that information should be mine but not having the information takes that choice away from me.

                                                              1. On grocery items, yes. For restaurant meals, I don't need it. I go out to just enjoy my meal, not to try to obsess about how it will affect my health. If I develop health problems as I get older, I may change my tune.

                                                                1. No,however listing the ingredients for allergy issues,mine or others is useful and or important.

                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                      thank you for answering the question :)

                                                                    2. Yes, I want as much nutritional and ingredient information as I can get.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: antennastoheaven

                                                                        yes, me too.
                                                                        If I want to indulge in something REALLY bad for me, I prefer to go into it with open eyes.
                                                                        If I want to be healthy about my choices that day- then I want to be armed with information.
                                                                        I can't see why anyone would really "not want to know". Sounds juvenile to me.

                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                          lol, I'm now imagining the same people covering their ears when the waiter begins to tell them how their desserts were made.

                                                                      2. No. I wouldn't particularly like to have nutrition information available, as I would not make use of that data.

                                                                        1. Definitely. I like having it available, and believe it should be required for any establishment that keeps any item on their regular menu to make it available. I don't need to look at it ON a menu, though.

                                                                          That said, I know what "junk food" or a "treat" is, and I don't eat either of them as a substitute for real food, nor do I generally bother reading the nutritional info even when it is printed or available elsewhere.

                                                                          What would be even more interesting, is where and HOW the food was produced. I'm more interested in knowing just how much genetically-modified/biotech foods I'm actually getting these days, from packaged bread to dried/canned beans to flour/sugar, etc., etc., etc. I don't know if I could handle the truth, though.

                                                                          1. If I am going out to a ‘nice’ dinner (mid to upper range restaurant) I PERSONALLY don’t want or need them to tell me how much fat/carb/sodium is in what I am eating, because PERSONALLY I am there to enjoy the food as an experience and knowing any or all of the above may interfere with that. I believe in eating healthfully MOST of the time and allowing myself an indulgence every once in a while and I thankfully have no health issues related to diet that I have to worry about these things

                                                                            That’s my own selfish perspective… I am not OPPOSED to having it available, but I certainly don’t’ want to peek. .

                                                                            I have a friend of the family who is type 1 diabetes, and her meals are taken almost like a prescription… it’s the only way she can survive on as little medication as possible to manage her disease. She has to eat prescribed types of food at prescribed times… for a person like her, it’d be beneficial to have this information when making a meal choice.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: cgarner

                                                                              Yeah, I can completely understand not wanting it on the actual menu/packaging, but I don't see any issue with having it available elsewhere even for those who don't care to know (they won't have to)

                                                                            2. Im reading through responses... and I don't get something..
                                                                              Given the hypothetical caveat that providing the nutritional information would not be a PITA and financial burden on a small-ish restaurant… why would anyone be opposed to having the information AVAILABLE?

                                                                              Just because it’s AVAILABLE doesn’t mean that you have to look at it.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                                That wasn't really the query posed by the OP, though. Rodzilla asked, "If you like to have nutrition info AVAILABLE?" Whether or not I would like it available is a different question than if I am opposed to having it available.

                                                                                As I, and others, responded upthread, I wouldn't particularly like to have it available, as I wouldn't make use of it. I don't want to speak for others, but in my case I am speaking more to indifference than opposition.

                                                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                                                  Cgarner - exactly

                                                                                  MonMauler - Cgarner's statement was more or less what I was going for. Perhaps I should have added

                                                                                  "for those who DO NOT care to have it available, would you be bothered if it were" - I wouldn't have expected anyone to say yes.

                                                                                  1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                    Thank you for the clarification, Rodzilla.

                                                                                    I will reiterate my position and clarify as well. I would not LIKE to have nutritional information available, as I would not use that data. In addition...

                                                                                    I am absolutely opposed to such information being placed on menus and menu boards, as I find it incredibly tacky. If an establishment wants to do this of their own volition they absolutely have the right to do so, but I probably would not find myself dining there very often. I am even more opposed to any mandates that compel this information to be placed on menus and menu boards, as I find to be a not so subtle attempt at social engineering by institutional bodies that believe people are incapable of making decisions in their own self interest.

                                                                                    As for what seems to be your main query - nutrition information simply being available, I do not have a strong stance, but I lean toward opposition. Compiling and distributing this information comes at a cost which is paid by all customers, the wide majority of which, I'm sure, have no interest in it whatsoever.

                                                                                    1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                      "Compiling and distributing this information comes at a cost which is paid by all customers, the wide majority of which, I'm sure, have no interest in it whatsoever."

                                                                                      Nice to be able to speak of everyone out there besides yourself.

                                                                                      1. re: sockii

                                                                                        sockii, do you doubt the veracity of my assumption? I thought it was a pretty fair generalization to propose that the wide majority of patrons of eating establishments are not interested in the specific nutrition data of their food and beverage options.

                                                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                          To look at the hordes of lard-****s in line at the food courts and mid-priced corporate food chains, I'd say it's fairly impossible to doubt the veracity of your assumption.

                                                                                          1. re: staughton

                                                                                            Careful, that could easily be turned around into an argument in favor of "social engineering by institutional bodies that believe people are incapable of making decisions in their own self interest". If they're right, then we're all paying the cost already, one way or another.

                                                                                2. Absolutely, yes, I like having it available. On a restaurant website is fine - that way I can check on my own time and make decisions on what I might plan on eating if I am trying to watch calories/fat/carbs/etc. I understand this is not feasible for smaller/independent restaurants but I see no reason why any large chain or establishment that uses regular, established recipes used without change couldn't provide this information for consumers who would appreciate it. No one is forcing someone who doesn't want to see it to look it up on the website.

                                                                                  Lots of people who have never dealt with weight issues just don't get why this is a big deal. Good for you that you've got a great metabolism (for now, see how that may change as you get older...) Good for you that you've never dealt with any eating disorders or emotional eating issues that are a lot more complicated than just simply "eating until you're full" or "eat less/exercise more". Having nutritional information available can make it a LOT easier for those of us who every once in a while (or more frequently than that) need to refocus our eating habits, practice portion control, or work on balancing healthy eating with occasional indulgences.

                                                                                  There's also the factor that what a lot of people may think in their heads is a "healthy choice" at a restaurant is often in fact the opposite, and looks can be deceiving without having nutritional info available. A lot of those "garden salads" entrees at chain restaurants can have more calories and fat than a hamburger and fries, if you don't watch the dressing, cheese, and other additions. So it's not even as simple as saying "eat a salad, not a steak" - because you don't know how many hidden calories might be on that plate without information.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: sockii

                                                                                    Completely agree with everything said here. I'm a petite person with a pretty slow metabolism and a health issue that requires me to stay in certain weight range, therefore I eat a pretty restricted calorie diet. I don't count every single calorie I eat but I like to know what general range I'm in. I always check calories when I eat at chains. I'd rather know than not know so I can budget my calories accordingly.

                                                                                    The salad example is perfect - a local "healthy" salad chain I frequent has salads that range from 250-700+ calories. I can eat any of them and feel pretty much the same amount of fullness, as they're generally the same size with the same number of toppings. If they didn't post nutritional info online how would I know that their "low fat Caesar" is an insane calorie bomb and not really low fat at all?

                                                                                    I don't really see how it can harm anyone to have nutritional available to those who want it. In NYC, where I live, all franchises and chains are required to post calories. I remember being mindblown by how caloric some of the pastries and treats at Starbucks were. I think for people who need to lose weight (and, let's face it, in the US that's a lot of people) calorie and nutritional information can offer both a wake up call and helpful guidance. Many people can't sense fullness. Many don't know what foods, by nature, are better for you than others. There's a difference between consciousness and obsession, but if we can encourage consciousness toward eating healthfully in any way possible, we should.

                                                                                    1. re: thelittlemiller

                                                                                      "There's a difference between consciousness and obsession, but if we can encourage consciousness toward eating healthfully in any way possible, we should."

                                                                                    2. re: sockii

                                                                                      Actually, steak is often one of the most easily deconstructed things compared to salads, so long as (i) the restaurant honors your request to not add fat after broiling/grilling (most restaurants do add fat: that's why restaurant steaks taste so much better than home cooking for many people), and (ii) you're willing to only eat part of it.... (And I have no problem with people who bring a small scale and a paper plate to weigh and eyeball portion out their food as needed as a medical matter; I've done it in my day, too.)

                                                                                    3. last I checked, commander's palace listed their recipes on their website. Is this close enough for ya? You'd have to do the flourmath yourself, of course... (and guess which flour's they're using, though they'd probably tell if you asked...)

                                                                                      1. and let's not forget that, while I realize that one could take a given dish to a laboratory and pay to have it analyzed, etc., etc., etc.....

                                                                                        ...publishing a full list of ingredients and nutritional information could be seen by some folks, who have created a dish for which their establishment is particularly well-known, as tantamount to giving away a trade secret.

                                                                                        E.g., you'll never see a complete list of all of the eleven herbs and spices at KFC....

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          or Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Yes, but spices generally don't add anything to calorie/fat/carb counts. There are no "secrets" being given away in providing basic nutritional info, and a restaurant should at least be forthcoming if a customer asks about the presence of a particular ingredient in a dish, if they are allergic or intolerant.

                                                                                            1. re: sockii

                                                                                              It was only an example, chosen because it is familiar to a large number of readers on this board.

                                                                                          2. All of my favorite eating spots don't cook in such a way that it would be possible for them to present detailed nutrition information. Substitutions, eyeballing, using the ingredient that's best on any given day, seasoning to taste - this is what my favorite spots do. Any mandatory requirement for detailed nutrition information would kill the restaurant industry as we know it, unless the results were so inaccurate as to be nearly useless.

                                                                                            Of course, no one proposed mandatory nutrition information from small eateries. But even voluntarily providing nutrition information, if accurate, forces a kitchen so far into the factory/fast food model of food production that I'd rather they just don't bother. I'm happy if the wait staff is able to tell me with reasonable detail what went into the dish I'm about to eat. But frankly, I don't often ask. I just wish restaurants would more readily sell big portions of vegetables.

                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                Nah, it doesn't. First of all, detailed isn't mandatory, second of all, they could provide a range for their usual menu items, or more detail for those only. I rarely eat in chains and never in fast food, and I think this is feasible, though I would not want arduous mandates thrust on the kind of small, entrepreneurial or mom and pop type places we frequent.

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  but we all know that the minute they put ANY sort of verifiable data, there will be vultures waiting to tear their carcass into shreds.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Boy, and people say *I'm* cynical. :-)

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                      Nope - broke my rose-coloured spectacles a long time ago.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        They recalled mine prior to delivery.

                                                                                                  2. re: mcf

                                                                                                    my post above covers much of this ,NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED

                                                                                                    if you have the ingredients add a grasp or understanding of same ?
                                                                                                    DO YOU STILL REALLY NEED MORE INFORMATION,HELP etc????

                                                                                                    2 swordfish tacos with spicy remoulade on 6" blue corn tortillas with a side of pico de gallo and tiny dice of avacado,maybe 7oz of food TOTAL
                                                                                                    Without an allergy issue,looking at the plate should be 90%plus OBVIOUS answer.

                                                                                                    1. re: lcool

                                                                                                      I think I said that if I have the ingredients, that'd be fine, I'd estimate the carb/glucose impact and make choice that way. I like information, the more I can get, the better I like it, but I don't think every little place ought to have the burden the way standardized chains easily can carry it.

                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                      Agreed. I'm against any mandatory requirements, but it is nice to know what I am eating. Just as cowboyardee pointed out, if the waitstaff can give a relatively accurate list of ingredients then I'm happy.

                                                                                                  3. Yes! I never used to care, but since being diagnosed with diabetes I try to eat low carb. Items can be surprising in what they contain and often something I'd prefer to eat is lower carb than the item I think is lower carb. I love knowing.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                      Same here. I did not used to care until I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Now it is absolutely imperative that I know what is in every single morsel I put into my mouth. Even a couple of crumbs or cross contamination can cause serious problems.

                                                                                                    2. no. it's a dead giveaway that the establishment doesn't serve food, it serves "product."

                                                                                                      i don't generally like pro-industrial, pro-monoculture, pro-corporate, pseudo-food. the promotion of homogenized food is against everything i've worked my whole life for. the idea that chefs could no longer use regional or seasonal or heirloom ingredients, ever deviate from a master recipe/formula, or work with a diverse set of small farmers/suppliers--that these families should not have a heritage or livelihood, that ethnic foods must be eliminated, the idea that it is preferable to customers to use static ingredients such as the factory tyson chicken breast, the gmo tomato devoid of individual variation. scary stuff. a huge problem for self-respecting food professionals. i don't think people have any idea what they are really asking for with this type of proposition.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                        with you 100%,and your final sentence really says it all

                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                            Like, also. I don't want to eat anywhere that serves product. Passion for food should drive a restaurant, not the ability to run one logistically.

                                                                                                          2. NO NO NO Nutritional info is NOT what I want! Ingredients listings are the only way to get real info.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                              Actually, as I have celiac, reading labels is definitely more crucial than nutritional information. Too late to edit my post above. Regardless, I need to know if there is any gluten in a food or product. And that is found on the label.

                                                                                                            2. A FEW OBSERVATIONS

                                                                                                              - everyone seems to think nutrition/ingredient information must mean the current FDA guidelines/protocols - not necessarily the case. As others have mentioned it would be easy enough for a small business to get a rough estimate from an online calculator (ex: think of a small cookie business)

                                                                                                              -others are assuming we're talking about small restaurants with rotational/complicated menus, and fearing compiling information would make them cook in a a "corporate kitchen" type fashion (cost/ingredients>quality) Again, not the case. Those type of places could give rough estimates for a few items - but there are many OTHER types of food business - small, local artisan products that could do a much better job of things.

                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                                                I would l love an example of "small,local artisan products" that you feel could do a much better job.

                                                                                                                My,NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED businesses were:
                                                                                                                a pasta maker,filled and not
                                                                                                                cup cake,cookie,muffin & scone (sweet,small batch) for 3
                                                                                                                cracker,biscuit & scone (savory)
                                                                                                                Ice Cream,tiny batch....She has since made the big time and all containers display "nutrition" with allergy disclaimers for retail.Her specialty micro batches commissioned by restaurants and caterers,not so.
                                                                                                                sausage,salami and other small batch cures for two
                                                                                                                plus four more,small batch jelly,jam,varietal specific vinegar and other condiments.

                                                                                                                all with DETAILED ingredient lists available,not nutritional

                                                                                                                These small businesses,honest craftsmen,were SKEWERED publicly,on the evening news for trying.They had the best of intentions.

                                                                                                                1. re: lcool

                                                                                                                  Which TV station? What were the local regs?

                                                                                                                  I was delighted when the Boston Globe did an expose of misleading even downright deceitful fish labeling in the Boston area.

                                                                                                                  However, nutritional information cannot be reasonably provided by businesses (or relied upon by customers) that don't operate with significant ingredient and portion control: most big chains do, because it's essential for controlling their margins at that scale. But not smaller operations. And I don't believe there is a great demand that smaller operations be required to do so. However, there are growing numbers of people who for a variety of valid reasons will migrate more of the dining-out business (to the extent they dine out) to operations that can provide reasonable estimates unless they have options that they can reasonably deconstruct visually (grilled/broiled/steamed/poached intact pieces of flesh served intact without added fat or sauce, for example; poached or even fried (but not scrambled) eggs; vegetables prepared with minimal saucing/dressing; et cet.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                    DC either ABC or NBC

                                                                                                                    Not all they do is unrealistic.They took on Whole Foods regarding fish,farmed,wild and or correct species and then attacked the organic frozen vegetable case.In that area they wound up toasted over an open flame,several were from China with pesticides lacking EPA labeling for the USA.The other major chains in this area took notice and quietly pulled,reintroduced product,often with new packaging.
                                                                                                                    Did many of the areas fish purveyors take a hit also?YOU BET
                                                                                                                    Did this stick an honesty javelin up the arse of brokers and wholesalers?YOU BET
                                                                                                                    Is this the same as the corner cupcake or farm market stand,just trying to help? I DON'T THINK SO.

                                                                                                                  2. re: lcool

                                                                                                                    Examples (think of places like them):

                                                                                                                    Jeni's ice cream - started out local small batch, now commercially available nationwide - provides ingredient lists but no nutritional analysis.

                                                                                                                    Levain Bakery - obviously its not going to be diet "friendly" but they don't have ingredients (understandable that it may be proprietary) or estimates of the nutritional values - the latter may turn customers off if put on the menu/packaging, but it could be made available elsewhere for those who would like to know..

                                                                                                                    Restaurants - this one is a stretch, but say it's a local sandwich place or even bistro - noting somewhere that they have a few items with nutrition estimates available (if wanted) would appeal to those who DO like to know.

                                                                                                                    The discussion on how this information might influence the "proper" (numbers vs. intuition) should be saved for elsewhere, there are a number of reasons why people may want to have this information.

                                                                                                                2. Available, fine. But until the info becomes accurate, can't take it too seriously.

                                                                                                                  1. I value places that have it available, at least on their websites.

                                                                                                                    1. I am fortunate to have no health issuse at all and I still definitely like to have nutrition and ingredient information available so that I can avoid certain ingredients. But for some, as in my father's story below, it is even more serious.

                                                                                                                      It took awhile to figure out that my father, a diabetic, becoming very, very ill on his birthday was because he ate cole slaw (that turned out to have sugar in it) while eating at a catfish house. A happy day turned frightening unnecessarily because that information wasn't available that day. Our family recipe did not have cole slaw in it and in that day and age we didn't have a clue that that was the ingredient that actually made that cole slaw good. He thought he had skipped all meal items with sugar and he became very ill.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: perrottwilliamson

                                                                                                                        It's very hard for consumers to accurately judge ingredients in a lot of cases, which is why I am in favor of making this information freely available.

                                                                                                                        There is a post about guacamole recipes on the Home Cooking forum http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/868680. I've always assumed guac is a universally vegetarian, non-dairy treat - just avocados and maybe some onions/garlic/tomato/peppers and spices. That's how I have always made it, that's how everyone I've ever known has always made it. I've never detected anything different in guac before. But people reported putting mayo, sour cream, or yogurt in theirs (hello dairy), as well as Worstershire sauce (which would render the guac unsuitable for vegetarians).

                                                                                                                        I am not commenting on the merits of these ingredients, just that it would never occur to me to add them, so I wouldn't think about proactively asking about them. Things like dairy, sugar, sodium, gluten, etc. can be present in unexpected foods or in unexpected quantities. The world doesn't end for me if I accidentally eat dairy or fish in guacamole, but as illustrated above, there are people with serious medical conditions who could use nutritional info to manage their health.

                                                                                                                      2. On products in the grocery store YES YES YES YES YES. After my husband had a heart attack these labels were my major source of education.