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Sep 9, 2012 04:02 PM

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 they just try to make the best of 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.